As part of the Observatory's efforts to enhance regional weather information for the public, commencing today (28 September 2005) a new webpage showing wind gust data over the territory will be added to the Observatory's website. The information will facilitate members of the public in planning outdoor activities. It will also be useful to owners of small vessels and operators of gust sensitive industries such as container terminals and depots, enabling them to take appropriate responses to minimize losses due to strong gusts.
The gust information will be displayed on the Observatory's Website (http://www.weather.gov.hk/wxinfo/ts/index_e_gust.htm) (Figure 1) and Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) Website (http://pda.weather.gov.hk/gustehk.htm) in the form of peak gusts recorded in the past 10 minutes for 20 locations in Hong Kong. The webpage will be updated once every 10 minutes. Animation of gust distribution maps for the past 3 hours is also available to facilitate appreciation of the temporal variation of gusts. The gust information will also be accessible from the Observatory's Dial-a-Weather system (1878 200 - 2 - 227).
Strong gusts manifest themselves as abrupt increases in wind speed or drastic changes in wind direction. They often occur in heavy showers; thunderstorms and strong monsoon situations. They originate mainly from rapid and irregular motion of air currents (technically known as Turbulence). When violent gusts occur, drivers on highways and flyovers as well as people engaging in outdoor activities should guard against violent gusts and beware of flying debris and falling objects. The public should also exercise care when opening windows. Operators of small vessels should take precautions to prevent their boats from capsizing in violent gusts.
The Observatory also offers an automatic gust alarm service to special clients in the form of a customized webpage on a cost-recovery basis. Automatic audio and visual alarms will be generated when gusts over the territory reach the pre-defined thresholds specified by the client. The gust alarm will alert users to assess, based on their level of acceptable risk, whether they would adjust their outdoor operations or activities. It is expected that special users including container terminal operators or construction companies would benefit from the new service. Those interested in the gust alarm service are welcome to contact Mr. Julian Tang of the Hong Kong Observatory at 2926 8376 for details.
The new gust information service is welcomed by container terminal operators. The Chairman of the Hong Kong Container Terminal Operators Association Limited (HKCTOA), Mr. Alan Lee, said "The enhanced gust information is very useful to the operations of container terminals. I am delighted with the Observatory's efforts in providing the automatic gust alarm service to container terminal operators and in explaining to us the weather associated with high gusts during seminars."
Figure 1. The distribution map of the peak gust for the past 10 minutes on the Observatory's webpage for regional weather.