The Hong Kong Observatory has forecast that this year could be one of the hottest years on record and that between four and seven tropical cyclones can be expected in 2019.

This follows Hong Kong’s warmest winter on record with the mean temperature reaching 19.1 degrees C and only three cold days, also the fewest on record, according to a press briefing held on Thursday.

As the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) marked 2015 to 2018 as the four warmest years on record globally, Hong Kong also had warmer than usual weather throughout 2018, with an annual mean temperature of 23.9 degrees.

Observatory director Shun Chi-ming said the tropical cyclone season for this year may start in or after June, with the expectation of between four and seven tropical cyclones coming within 500 kilometers of Hong Kong, which is normal.

Under the effect of global warming and El Niño, the annual mean temperature in 2019 is expected to be above normal, with a high chance of reaching the warmest top 10 on record. Cold days, defined as those with a temperature below 12 degrees, could come down to just one day every winter in a few years’ time.

The annual rainfall for 2019 is expected to be normal or above normal, which means Hong Kong will likely be affected by levels of heavy rain that correspond to most years.

Shun said he did not rule out the possibility that due to the rise in sea temperatures, super typhoons liked Mangkhut which badly damaged the city last September, may be more likely in the region, Sing Tao Daily reported.