Red Rainstorm Warning Signal issued at 8.40pm, schools urged to prioritise student safety amidst heavy rainfall (Updated: 9.14pm)

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15th September 2023 – (Hong Kong) Hong Kong Observatory issued a special announcement at 8.40pm, upgrading the Rainstorm Warning Signal to Red. This indicates that the city is experiencing or expecting heavy rainfall, surpassing 50 millimetres per hour, with the likelihood of continued downpours.

The torrential rain could result in significant road flooding, traffic congestion, and potential disruptions to regular school hours. In light of this, parents, students, school authorities, and school-bus drivers are advised to stay updated through radio or television announcements regarding school arrangements. Those who need to travel should exercise caution, considering the weather and road conditions while taking necessary precautions.

In the past couple of hours, around 70 millimetres of rainfall were recorded over Sai Kung, Shatin and Tai Po Districts, and rainfall even exceeded 100 millimetres at Ma On Shan. It is expected that heavy rainstorm will affect the territory in the next couple of hours. Members of the public should stay on high alert.

The intense rainfall may lead to flash floods, and watercourses are already experiencing or expected to face flooding. It is crucial for individuals to stay away from these areas. Residents residing near rivers should remain vigilant about weather updates and consider evacuation if their homes are at risk of flooding.

The northeastern part of the New Territories continues to be affected by heavy rain, while rainbands in the waters south of Hong Kong are moving northward towards the territory. Consequently, there is a high possibility of imminent heavy rainstorms over Hong Kong. Public awareness and preparedness should remain at a heightened level.

Tomorrow, a trough of low pressure will bring heavy showers and thunderstorms to southern China and the northern part of the South China Sea. As the trough weakens, showers will gradually diminish over the following days, leading to improved weather conditions in the region. However, a surge of the northeast monsoon is expected to impact the southeastern coast of China in the middle and latter parts of next week. Generally, the daytime weather is expected to be fine across the region.

In light of the Red Rainstorm Warning Signal, the Labour Department (LD) has emphasised the importance for employers to make prior work arrangements for their staff, including reporting for duty, release from work, resumption of work, and work-from-home arrangements if applicable. These measures serve to ensure employee safety and the smooth operation of organisations while promoting healthy labor-management relations.

An LD spokesperson stated, “Employers should prioritise the safety of their employees and consider the feasibility of their commute to and from work when formulating and implementing work arrangements. Understanding the diverse circumstances faced by individual employees, such as their place of residence and local road and traffic conditions, employers should adopt a sympathetic and flexible approach that addresses their unique difficulties and needs.”

With the Red Rainstorm Warning Signal in effect, schools must implement contingency measures to safeguard student safety. Schools currently in session should continue until the normal end of school hours. However, they must evaluate conditions carefully before allowing students to return home, ensuring that it is safe to do so.