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Thursday, 23rd July 2009

Caught red-handed

The Observatory recently installed a camera at Cheung Chau to monitor the weather and sea conditions there. Here are two photos taken in the afternoon of 11 July (Saturday), when tropical cyclone signals were issued as Tropical Storm Soudelor approached Hong Kong :


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People seemed to pay little attention to the warning against water sports due to the presence of rough seas and swells. The appearance of white caps on wave top (left picture) means that winds were fresh to strong and the associated wave height could be as high as 2 m. Despite this, over ten surfers could be identified from the camera at one time.

The situation hardly changed last weekend when Typhoon Molave almost scored a direct hit at Hong Kong, missing it by a mere 40 kilometres. Probably because of the extreme heat that afternoon, when temperatures soared to 34 degrees at the Observatory and some 37 degrees in the New Territories, lots of people went to beach braving the waves.

The next day, many newspapers featured these people enjoying at the seaside in their coverage of the storm. The images seemed to suggest fun, but actually they smelled of extreme danger. The coverage certainly does not help the Government's message asking people to stay away from the shore when tropical cyclones strike.

According to our record, twelve people lost their lives during tropical cyclone passages over the past ten years. Of these, 2/3 were associated with water sports: 6 were either engaged in swimming or surfing; one was swept away while fishing; another one, an off-duty fireman, tragically lost his life while attempting to save a swimmer in rough seas.

B.Y. Lee



Last revision date: <17 Jan 2013>