Local farmers will be among those most affected by the cold weather over the past weekend, according to the New Territories Local Farm Association, as the cold snap is threatening to kill off up to 40 per cent of their crops.
The Hong Kong Observatory (HKO) issued its second frost warning of the year at 4.30pm on Sunday, and was a specific reminder to local farmers. It was cancelled early this morning. The first frost warning of the year (and the first since 2016) was issued on Saturday evening, and lasted for about 12 hours. The HKO said that temperatures are set to increase around Wednesday.
According to the Hong Kong Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, local farmers provide less than two per cent of the vegetables that are sold in Hong Kong, with about 39 tonnes being produced every day from farms around Hong Kong.
The frost may have reduced this already-small share in the market. Because the harvest may be reduced by up to 40 per cent, the average price of vegetables may also rise.
The Observatory’s scientific officer, Law Siu-fai, said the minimum temperature in urban areas on Sunday night and this morning was about eight degrees Celsius, and two to three degrees lower in the New Territories.
After the first frost warning was issued at 7.30pm on Saturday, frost-chasers – people who go looking for snowlike conditions – headed to the city’s highest peak, Tai Mo Shan. However, they were all let down as there was no frost, despite the mercury dipping to about 1.4 degrees.
At Ta Kwu Ling, close to the city’s border with the mainland, the lowest temperature was six degrees on Sunday morning, but there was no frost.
Meanwhile, Law said the winter monsoon would continue to bring cold and dry weather to southern China.
The temperature is expected to increase gradually as the week goes on, to a maximum of 16 degrees Celsius in urban areas on Wednesday, and 18 degrees Celsius on Saturday.
The persistent chill has led to more people catching the flu, leaving hospitals struggling to cope.
On Saturday, the accident and emergency units in 17 public hospitals saw 5,225 new patients, with 964 people transferred to medical wards. United Christian in Kwun Tong and Queen Elizabeth in Ho Man Tin were the busiest hospitals.