HONG KONG • It was a night to remember, according to local media. Hong Kong was hit by a record 10,000 flashes of lightning over 12 hours over the weekend in a phenomenon that has captivated the city. Even meteorologists were taken aback by the intensity, reported South China Morning Post.
The newspaper said Hong Kong residents were barely starting to cool down from the hottest July day in half a century when the Hong Kong Observatory issued a thunderstorm warning at 6.45pm last Saturday. It advised the public to seek shelter and get off high ground.
In more than five hours up to midnight, the Observatory recorded 5,905 cloud-to-ground lightning strikes, most of them hitting Lantau island and the New Territories.
The rolling thunder and intense flashes continued into yesterday morning, which saw a further 4,095 bolts of lightning strike from cloud to ground.
Observatory scientific officer Tam Yee Ting told the Post that such a measurement was "very high" even for a summer storm. The figure had surpassed the record- high 24-hour total of 9,966 cloud- to-ground strikes in July 2005.
Explaining the rare weather occurrence, the meteorologist said: "Saturday's high temperatures facilitated convection, which is the rising of warm air from the ground and this creates unstable air (in the upper atmosphere). This provides the mechanisms for rain and thunder."
Lightning also captured the imagination of Singaporeans earlier this year when a composite image of lightning activity taken by architecture and landscape photographer Darren Soh in Sembawang went viral on social media. The picture was also featured on international news websites such as The Telegraph.
Weather photographers in Hong Kong had a field day over the weekend snapping pictures of forks of lightning piercing the deep purple skies, much of their work plastered on social media overnight.
On Saturday, temperatures hit their highest levels in half a century with the Observatory recording readings of 37 deg C in several districts in the afternoon as Typhoon Nepartak edged closer to the city.
An Observatory spokesman said it recorded a reading of 35.6 deg C at its office, the second highest on record for July and the hottest so far this year, reported the Post. In July 1968, the mercury hit 35.7 deg C at the same location, which is used as a historical comparison. Several districts, including Shau Kei Wan and Sha Tin, saw the mercury climb to over 37 deg C on Saturday, with Happy Valley the hottest, at 37.9 deg C, Observatory readings show.