Press Release



HKO enters year 2000 - Inauguration of Tai Mo Shan Weather Radar and Supercomputer


The Hong Kong Observatory (HKO) today (Tuesday) celebrated the inauguration of the Tai Mo Shan Weather Radar and the Supercomputer at its Headquarters in Tsim Sha Tsui.

Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, the Director of Hong Kong Observatory, Dr Lam Hung-kwan, said that the Supercomputer would make use of radar data in its numerical weather prediction model and that the output would help the Observatory improve its rainstorm forecasting capability.

Dr Lam said, "The Observatory is one of the first weather services to merge radar with numerical model in daily operations. It is a new endeavour in the weather forecasting business and turns over a new leaf of weather services in year 2000."

Dr Lam noted that although weather forecasts were increasingly accurate in recent years, HKO had yet to improve its heavy rain forecasting.

"The Tai Mo Shan Weather Radar will monitor the intensity and movement of rain while the Supercomputer with numerical weather prediction model will predict the development of rainstorm," Dr Lam said.

Other officiating guests included Legislative Councillor, Professor Ng Ching Fai, Consul-General of Japan, Mr Kunihiko Makita, and Acting Consul-General of the United States, Mr John Medeiros.

The $27 million worth Doppler weather radar standing on top of Tai Mo Shan, was made in Japan. The project took 15 months to complete. It is equipped with state-of-the-art hardware and software and has proved its value in determining tropical cyclone position and strength, and rainfall intensity during the several tropical cyclone passages this year.

The Supercomputer from the United States costs about $10 million. It is one of the fastest computers in Hong Kong and is about 5,000 times faster than the computer HKO used 10 years ago. To run a 20 kilometres by 20 kilometres grid high resolution numerical weather prediction model, the Supercomputer takes less than one hour to produce a 24-hour forecast while the old computer requires more than 5 months to perform the same calculation.

End/Tuesday, December 7, 1999