Our spring break came before the Chinese and Easter holidays and last minute plans brought us to Hong Kong for 4 days. The price was right, so we decided to go find warmer temperatures, do some shopping and see a few more sights. Checking the weather forecast the days before we were to leave I was disappointed to see rain, rain and more rain forecasted. Thinking things would change closer to the departure I remained optimistic. The day before we left the weather reported only a chance of afternoon thunder showers and I felt relieved. However, I did pack my umbrella and raincoat at the last minute just in case. This may have jinxed the trip, or the weather report was toying with us to think we could get away with rain free days.
Sunday March 31st we departed Shanghai only slightly behind schedule. Landing in Hong Kong we immediately noticed the dark skies threatening rain. We made it to the hotel and out to dinner without incident. The skies remained dark. The air was thick and humid. We returned to the hotel room deciding what to do next when we heard this unusual noise. Looking out the window we saw heavy rain that sometimes was going sideways. The sound of the rain was soothing and with the windows open and fresh breeze filling the room it quickly lulled me to sleep. Not long after flashes of lighting and loud thunder roared. It continued all night waking us on occasion. The next morning the rain continued to come down. I wondered how it was possible for so much moisture to come out of those clouds. Maybe we should have built an ark!
We decided to head out and get out of our small almost claustrophobic size hotel room. Within seconds we were soaked despite the umbrella and rain coat. My feet were squishy and squeaking with every step as water lined the streets and keeping dry was an impossible task. We ran into a small home/ hardware type store that sold a variety of household items and gadgets. For 10 HK$ (about $1.43 CDN) I found a lovely raincoat that would be large enough to cover my poor leather purse and camera. It was also a little longer than the one I had, so more of me would be dry. However, I felt like I was wearing a plastic trash bag; how unfashionable, especially in Hong Kong. I looked like a drowned rat in plastic wrap and despite the rain locals looked cool and calm with their waterproof shoes and more fashionable trench coats. Oh well we decided the rain wasn’t going to spoil our vacation since our time was limited.
Luckily and we tramped around overhangs from buildings and some covered walkways protected us in some places, although the damage had already been done. We were still wet. We wandered a large mall at Time’s Square and bought some great new Samsung phones cheap, which just happened to be on sale, SCORE! so all was not lost. John was happy to find Pizza Express which served good thin crust pizza.
I knew the rain was bad and it continued until mid day. With a short break that was short lived it started again. It wasn’t until now as I researched things did I know HOW bad the weather was. Here are some of the stats I found from Bloomburg and The Guardian press on-line:
- March 31st there was 40mm of rain
- In some parts of Hong Kong there was hail, only the 39th time this has occurred in the city
- hail was golf ball to fist size
- 245 flights were affected, some 200 delayed, while others were cancelled or diverted
- there was flooding in some areas where water reached up to waist height! People were swimming to get around -or out.
- there were 3000 lightning strikes reported in 1 hour with 8000 in total
Hong Kong terms this kind of storm “Black Rain” which means 7+cm of rain can fall in 1 hour. We were lucky we missed this coming in, but wandered out in it the next morning not realizing how bad it could be. The rain ended up lasting the entire time we were in Hong Kong and it didn’t let up for days after. The rain lasted 1 week in total! It started Sunday and the following Saturday it stopped. Now we did have a few hours each day rain free and the heavy rain luckily started JUST after we returned to our hotel. The day we left we were not as lucky and it rained quite hard for a few hours. A quick dash to the metro kept us dry. Our flight was ready to go when it began again and with only 1 hour delay we were able to take off. Luckily we were already on the tarmac and in the que, or I am sure the delay could have been longer. With so many trips and vacations in my life the last 2 seemed to have had the trickiest weather. Hopefully that is it for a while.