Amber rain is a term used to describe a type of heavy rain that may cause flooding and traffic disruption in some areas. It is one of the three levels of rainstorm warning signals issued by the Hong Kong Observatory to alert the public about the occurrence and severity of rainfall. The other two levels are red rain and black rain, which indicate more intense and hazardous rainfall conditions.
In this article, we will explain what amber rain is, how it is different from other types of rain, what precautions you should take when it occurs, and some interesting facts about this phenomenon.
What is Amber Rain?
According to the Hong Kong Observatory, amber rain means that heavy rain has fallen or is expected to fall generally over Hong Kong, exceeding 30 millimetres in an hour, and is likely to continue. This level of rainfall may cause flooding in some low-lying and poorly drained areas, such as underground car parks, basements, and streets. It may also affect the operation of some public transport services, such as buses and minibuses.
The amber rain signal is usually issued a couple of hours ahead of anticipated heavy rain, to give alert about potential red or black rain situations. However, this lead time may not always be possible due to the rapid development of weather systems. Therefore, members of the public should always pay attention to the latest weather information and announcements on radio or television.
How is Amber Rain Different from Other Types of Rain?
Amber rain is different from other types of rain in terms of its intensity, duration, and impact. The following table summarizes the main differences between amber rain and other types of rain:
Type of Rain
Less than 30 mm per hour
More than 30 mm per hour
Likely to continue
Flooding in some areas; traffic congestion; public transport disruption
More than 50 mm per hour
Likely to continue
Serious road flooding; traffic paralysis; school closure; public examination postponement; landslip risk
More than 70 mm per hour
Likely to continue
Very serious road flooding; traffic standstill; school suspension; public examination cancellation; landslip danger; evacuation advice
What Precautions Should You Take When Amber Rain Occurs?
When amber rain occurs, you should take necessary precautions to reduce your exposure to risk posed by heavy rain, such as flooding. Here are some tips on what you should do when amber rain occurs:
Avoid going near easily flooded watercourses, such as rivers, streams, nullahs, and drains. Do not attempt to cross flooded areas or enter floodwaters.
If you are driving, slow down and keep a safe distance from other vehicles. Watch out for road signs and traffic signals that may be obscured by heavy rain or floodwater. Do not park your vehicle in low-lying areas or near watercourses.
If you are using public transport, check the latest service status and route diversions before you travel. Allow more time for your journey and follow the instructions of the transport staff.
If you are at home or indoors, close all windows and doors to prevent water ingress. Unplug electrical appliances and turn off gas supply if necessary. Move valuable items to higher places.
If you are outdoors, seek shelter in a safe place as soon as possible. Avoid staying under trees or near metal objects that may attract lightning. Do not touch fallen power lines or exposed wires.
If you are a student, parent, teacher, or school-bus driver, listen to radio or television announcements on the weather, road and traffic conditions. Follow the guidelines issued by the Education Bureau on school arrangements during rainstorms