Expert defends observatory as another storm closes in

The observatory said on Monday that Tropical Cyclone Kompasu is expected to come within 800 kilometres of Hong Kong overnight, and it is expected to be closest to the city early on Wednesday.

The weathermen said Kompasu will likely skirt around 400 kilometres to the south of Hong Kong by then, bringing widespread rainstorms and squalls, and winds that may reach gale force over some areas.

The warning comes amid criticism by the media and members of the public over what they described as inaccurate forecast for Tropical Cyclone Lionrock over the weekend, but a former assistant director of the observatory, Leung Wing-mo, said he saw nothing wrong with the weather station’s decisions.

The Strong Wind Signal No 3 was issued on Friday but many said the storm felt like a bad typhoon, but by the time a No 8 Signal was issued on Saturday, people said the weather was calm and it was hardly raining in some areas.

“They didn’t quote any data. On Friday, everyone knows there was strong wind and heavy rain. But if you look at the data, there was no gale, a number 8 signal could not be issued,” Leung told an RTHK programme.

“One can certainly make criticism. But if one doesn’t understand the circumstances, I’m sorry I don’t think you are in a position to criticise,” he said.

Leung, who’s now a spokesperson for the Hong Kong Meteorological Society, said the observatory always wants to provide a forecast as detailed and precise as possible.

“But in reality, given the current scientific level, or in the foreseeable future, it cannot be done. The observatory is struggling between people’s expectation for a very precise forecast and the science,” he said.