On 15 December 2009, the Hong Kong Observatory commemorated the 50th anniversary of weather radar observations in Hong Kong. A new weather radar product featuring radar images on geographical information display was launched to enhance weather radar services for the public.
At a press conference, Assistant Director of the Hong Kong Observatory, Mr Shun Chi-ming, reviewed the history of weather radar observations in Hong Kong. He said weather radar had been serving Hong Kong since 1959. "In the past half-century, the Observatory has advanced through several generations of weather radars, making use of the latest technologies to protect lives and property from natural hazards such as typhoons and rainstorms."
Installed at Tate's Cairn, the first weather radar enabled the tracking of typhoons. The eye of Typhoon Wanda in 1962 could be clearly depicted on the radar image. With the subsequent introduction of digital weather radar, Doppler weather radar and windshear-detecting terminal weather radar, not only did the Observatory enhance its capability in weather detection, but more user-friendly radar products became available to weather forecasters, specialised users and the public.
"The Observatory now operates three weather radars round-the-clock to serve the public as well as the Hong Kong International Airport. This would not have been possible without the efforts of many colleagues who have worked diligently over the years to maintain the weather radars, especially in inclement weather," Mr Shun said.
A case in point, he said, was the passage of Typhoon York in 1999, when two of his colleagues had to stay at the remote hilltop radar station for several days to maintain the radar operation until the electricity supply ran out. The radar station was bombarded by gale to hurricane-force winds and contact with the outside world was lost at one stage.
"We salute our colleagues in their commitment to work under such difficult conditions," Mr Shun said.
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of weather radar observations in Hong Kong and to collect the memories of Observatory staff working with weather radars, a booklet on "50 Years of Weather Radar Observations in Hong Kong" has been produced and is available on the Observatory's website: www.hko.gov.hk/wxinfo/radars/radar_gallery/files/Radar-50years.pdf.
The present weather radars provide many products and are indispensable to weather forecasters. To make the weather radar images more user-friendly, the Observatory today launched on its website a new radar product based on a geographical information platform. People can interactively zoom in and out of the radar images, and make reference to a host of geographical information such as roads, public utilities and well known places, to enable them to know more precisely locations affected by rain. The new radar products are accessible on:
www.weather.gov.hk/wxinfo/radars/radar_256_kml/Radar_256.kml (radar image at 256 km range)
www.weather.gov.hk/wxinfo/radars/radar_064_kml/Radar_064.kml (radar image at 64 km range)