Hong Kong – Floods Cause Chaos After Record 158.1mm of Rain in 1 Hour

Torrential rain of as much as 800 mm flooded streets of Hong Kong on 08 September 2023, causing widespread disruption and damage and resulting in at least 2 fatalities.

The Hong Kong Observatory, the government department responsible for monitoring and forecasting weather, said a trough of low pressure associated with remnants of Typhoon Haikui brought heavy rain and thunderstorms to the Pearl River Estuary. More than 600 mm of rainfall were recorded at the Observatory in the past 24 hours to 08 September Rainfall totals exceeded 800 mm over the Eastern District and Southern District of Hong Kong Island, the Observatory said. The monthly mean rainfall for September in Hong Kong is 321.4 mm.

According to the Hong Kong Observatory, the weather station at the Observatory Headquarters recorded 158.1 mm of rain in just 1 hour. This is the highest one-hour rainfall since records began in 1884. Previous highs were:

  • 07 June 2008: 145.5 mm
  • 16 July 2006: 115.1 mm
  • 08 May 1992: 109.9 mm
  • 12 June 1966: 108.2

Videos shared on Social Media showed streets turned to rivers, with flood waters over 1.5 metres deep. Roads traffic and public transport were severely disrupted. Subway stations were flooded. Schools, the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and some offices were closed. The Labour Department issued a statement advising only essential should travel to work.

The flooding damaged residential and commercial buildings, including a busy shopping mall. The Hong Kong Fire Department said it received calls for help in areas including Chai Wan, Wan Chai, Aberdeen, Sha Tin and Yuen Long. The department evacuated 110 people and received reports of 58 people who were trapped in lifts. The Home Affairs Department opened 14 temporary shelter centres to house those displaced.

Hong Kong police said the bodies of 2 people were found in flooded areas in different parts of the city. Around 114 people were reported injured.

Flooding also occurred in nearby Guangdong province, in particular in areas of Shenzhen and Meizhou, where around 11,000 people were evacuated. Shenzhen recorded 469 mm of rain in 24 hours, which is also thought to be a record total.

Featured image: Floods Hong Kong September 2023. Credit: Government of Hong Kong