The Director of the Hong Kong Observatory (HKO), Mr Shun Chi-ming, briefed the media today ( March 18) on the latest developments of the Observatory and a series of activities to mark HKO's 130th anniversary this year.
Reviewing the weather forecast service of last year, Mr Shun said that the Observatory had continued to deliver new services, with rather good results. In the latest survey conducted by an independent market survey company, members of the public were generally satisfied with the tropical cyclone warning performance and considered nearly 80% of the weather forecasts accurate, maintaining the high score since 2006.
"The Observatory has spared no efforts to enhance weather information provision, in particular over the increasingly popular channels of the internet, mobile platforms and social networks.
"Both the HKO website and the mobile app 'MyObservatory' attained record-breaking new heights in visitor statistics, reaching 30 billion and 9.2 billion page views respectively in 2012. They both amounted to almost five times of the corresponding figures in 2011," Mr Shun said.
Mr Shun noted that the new weather services introduced last year were well-received by public. These included "special weather tips" and "two weather icons" to indicate weather changes; location-specific rainfall forecast for the coming two hours on mobile devices; and the revamped "Weather Information for Senior Citizens" webpage for the elderly.
To enhance the coverage and quality of weather observations which are crucial to weather forecasts, the Observatory continued to collaborate with local and regional partners, including investigation flights of the Government Flying Service into tropical cyclones to collect weather data; extending the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao lightning location network to Yangjiang, Guangdong to double the spatial coverage of lightning detection; testing of the first automatic weather station onboard one of the Hong Kong voluntary observing ships to provide more frequent weather observations at sea.
On public education, the Community Weather Information Network (Co-WIN) jointly promoted by HKO in cooperation with the Hong Kong Polytechnic University has registered a total of 125 institute members, including two latest new stations set up in Guam and the Philippines, coordinated under the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP)/World Meteorological Organization (WMO) Typhoon Committee. This signifies that the Observatory's public education efforts have reached a regional level and is recognised internationally. To further promote weather observation with the general public, especially the younger generation, a new educational book set entitled "The Changeable Clouds" has recently been published and will be launched on the World Meteorological Day on March 23.
Looking ahead, Mr Shun saw the future direction of providing more personalised and specific weather information. He announced the launch of new services today - a new "Hong Kong Observatory Personalised website" (my.weather.gov.hk) with user customisable contents; and a regional weather webpage based on the Geographical Information System (maps.weather.gov.hk) integrating different weather information on the same map. Other new services like a new digital regional weather forecast are in the pipeline.
The mobile app "MyWorldWeather", launched by the Observatory last year on iPhone on behalf of the WMO to provide official weather forecasts from over 1600 cities worldwide, has been very popular. It has been further developed and will make its debut in seven languages (Chinese, English, German, Korean, Polish, Portuguese and Spanish) and with a new Android version, on the World Meteorological Day, on which the President of WMO and other guests will officiate the launch.
On the annual weather outlook this year, noting that the sea surface temperature over the central and eastern equatorial Pacific is within the normal range, the coming typhoon season is expected to be about normal, with four to seven tropical cyclones to come within 500 km to affect Hong Kong, against the long-term average of about 6. In respect of tropical cyclone warning, the Wetland Park anemometer reference station will be replaced by the Lau Fau Shan station commencing this typhoon season. This replacement is required as wind measurements at Wetland Park have persistently shown a decreasing trend, probably as a result of urban development in its surroundings. On the annual rainfall outlook in 2013, it is expected to be normal to below-normal, ranging between 1900 and 2500 mm.
As the rainy season approaches, Mr Shun reminded the public to remain vigilant against the threat of inclement weather, especially under the probable global trend of increasing frequency of extreme weather brought by global warming.
This year is the 130th anniversary of the Hong Kong Observatory. The Observatory plans a series of activities to celebrate and to engage the public to promote awareness on weather and climate (http://www.weather.gov.hk/130thAnniversary/130th_home_e.htm). A kick-off event will be held on March 23, followed by the annual Open Day in the afternoon and March 24. An essay collection entitled "Under the Same Sky" contributed by HKO partners and colleagues will also be launched. Other activities will be staged throughout the year, including a joint exhibition with the Hong Kong Museum of History in the summer and a series of public lectures.
On the basis of ideas collected in-house on the future development of HKO, the vision, mission and values (VMV) of the Observatory have been updated to set out the direction, objectives and development strategies in the coming decade and beyond. The new VMV statement has been built on a new set of core values linked by the seven characters of the word "SCIENCE" - Serve, Care, Innovate, Ethuse, Nurture, Collaborate and Excel. In addition, a new Observatory mascot is also born today. Its design is inspired by the winning works of primary school children from a Weather Mascot Competition organised by the Hong Kong Meteorological Society, Hong Kong Society for Education in Art, and HKO. The mascot will serve as an ambassador to promote the Observatory's public education activities.
Full text of the Director's speech at the press briefing is available at www.weather.gov.hk/dhkovoice/speech20130318e.pdf.