The Hong Kong Observatory on Tuesday launched a new lightning location information service and people can make use of the information to identify areas affected by thunderstorms.
The observatory's lightning webpage will be updated every five minutes, enabling visualization of the movement of thunderstorms through animation of the lightning location maps, according to a government press release on Tuesday.
To raise the awareness of users, an alert function will be provided on the lightning webpage and an alert will be displayed on the webpage when the network has detected lightning in one of the regions selected by the user.
In addition to the graphical display, a condensed version of the lightning location information will be available in the hourly weather bulletin for radio and television broadcast. The information will also be accessible from the Dial-a-Weather system (1878 200), which will be updated once every 15 minutes.
When utilizing the lightning information, people should also make reference to the Thunderstorm Warning issued by the observatory as well as the radar imageries and the rainfall distribution map on the observatory's website, so as to gain a comprehensive appreciation of the thunderstorm situation.
In early 2005, the observatory set up a lightning location network in cooperation with the Guangdong Meteorological Bureau and Macao Meteorological and Geophysical Bureau. The network monitors lightning activities over the Pearl River Estuary round the clock.
The new lightning information serves as a supplement to the Thunderstorm Warning to alert people to the potential threat of severe weather conditions in various parts of the territory to enable them to take necessary precautions. It also facilitates planning for outdoor activities such as hiking, water sports and paragliding.
Special users like construction companies and recreational facility operators will also benefit from the new service.
In the past 15 years, 35 people have been struck by lightning in Hong Kong. Six of them have died.