There was never a certainty that Typhoon Usagi was going to make a direct hit on Hong Kong, but the waves from so powerful a storm were guaranteed to create spectacular waterfront displays. That was to be expected after weather forecasters had billed it as the biggest tempest in the world this year. The Hong Kong Observatory had for days been warning that wind strengths and seasonal high tides would cause mountainous swells, and the photographs and videos showing people dwarfed on the shoreline have not disappointed. What was shocking, though, was the numbers of parents who took their children from the safety of homes and put them in potentially dangerous situations to experience nature's fury at first hand.
They could be seen in the images, gasping and applauding as the towering waves smashed with a thunderous roar into the concrete shoreline at Tsim Sha Tsui. It was reality television come to life. Before the No 8 signal was raised on Sunday evening, surfers were also seen off some beaches, seemingly daring one another to take on the extreme conditions. All were, as emergency services officers pointed out, not only putting their lives at risk but also endangering whoever might have to be sent in to rescue them should they get into trouble.
Whether any of the more than a dozen people injured in our city were hurt because they ignored warnings is not known. Given the timely alerts, though, they could not have been unaware of the need to secure their property and stay indoors. It is because of such preparedness, safety rules and regulations and sturdy infrastructure that there were no deaths, unlike elsewhere, and damage was negligible. To overlook what has resulted from decades of experience is to invite disaster.
Usagi looked set to be Hong Kong's biggest storm in 34 years and for some people that represented a special thrill. However they perceive the occasion, though, that is not cause to imperil others. To ignore warnings is foolhardy; to take children along is irresponsible and poor parenting.