A cold weather warning issued by the Hong Kong Observatory was in force for a record-breaking tenth day on Saturday, prompting authorities to open shelters and call for visits to elders living alone.
"The cold weather warning is now in force," the observatory said in a special dispatch Saturday morning, while scientific officers from the observatory appeared at interviews with local radio and TV stations to remind the public to keep warm.
The cold weather warning, issued by the observatory on Jan. 24,has since been in force, topping the previous record of 204 hours in a row in January, 2004.
Minimum temperatures in Hong Kong's downtown area are occasionally below 10 degrees Celsius but such cold weather for over 10 days in a row was rarely seen in the past two or three decades, a scientific officer from the observatory said Saturday.
Hong Kong Observatory started issuing cold weather warnings in 1999, based on downtown minimum temperatures below 12 degrees as well as humidity and wind force, said Ma Wai-man, a senior scientific officer at the Hong Kong Observatory.
Minimum temperatures at various parts of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in south China were below 10 degrees Celsius on Saturday, and overcast sky and foggy showers were seen across the Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New Territories.
Hong Kong Observatory reminded the public to put on more clothes and ensure adequate indoor ventilation when using old-type gas water heaters.
The public were also advised to call or visit the elderly or people with chronic diseases who were staying alone.
The observatory said in a forecast the winter monsoon was expected to continue bringing cold air and rain to Hong Kong in the coming days before relatively more sunshine expected around the lunar Chinese New Year, which falls on Feb. 7 this year.
The unusually cold weather is also part of La Nina, during which the sea surface temperatures across the equatorial eastern central Pacific Ocean are lower than normal.
La Nina also brought snowstorms recently to the southern and eastern parts of China, leading to more pressure on the traffic ahead of the Chinese New Year.