Hong Kong’s coldest winter since 1957

Back from sunny Bali, we have just experienced Hong Kong’s coldest winter in 60 years! Just 4 weeks ago (around Christmas week), I was grumbling about this year’s warm winter. I hate to admit this in front of my Hong Kong friends (who usually overdressed in winter), this is no ordinary cold spell, it is indeed freezing cold!

To experience this once-in-a-lifetime natural phenomenon, many Hong Kongers (frost chasers) went up to Tai Mo Shan (Hong Kong’s highest peak) last night and early this morning. It was so chaotic that it almost become a national crisis. Many people were injured and trapped at the icy peak. The jam was so bad that even the firemen and medics had to go on foot to retrieve the people. The rescue mission was hampered by poor condition as some of them slipped on the icy road too.

I have survived the harshest winter in Mongolia (at -45°C) and braved the coldest artic wind in Abisko, I thought this is not a big deal for me. I totally underestimated Hong Kong’s coldest winter. Donning my usual gear (a light jacket and t-shirt), I went up to the Victoria Peak to experience the cold. The combination of strong wind, rain and high humidity was a deadly one. I was seriously unprepared for this!

Overnight, the cold frozen everything in its path. Leaves coated with ice sheets and icicles hung along the branches (and concrete steps). The environment was so unreal. I have never seen a frozen tropical forest! To see icicles hanging on green vegetations was a rare sight! Lucky for us, there weren’t many frost chasers here at Victoria Peak. In fact, it was very quiet and we had all the space and time to experience this rare phenomenon.

Fun aside, I hope the cold spell will be over soon. Unlike the northern cities, most housings in Hong Kong are not well insulated against such cold weather. It was freezing cold inside my own apartment. My fingers were so cold that I couldn’t text properly on my smart phone.

The bad news is this will not be a one-time occurrence. Haven’t you read about this? We are in fact entering a ‘solar minimum’ or some call it a mini “ice age”. Winter is not just coming, it will be colder and longer. Global warming might not be a bad thing after all!

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