Batten down the hatches: typhoon signal expected in Hong Kong early as Sunday night
Observatory warns public to take precautions in view of hailstones and strong winds
Hong Kong is expected to issue the typhoon standby signal No 1 warning as early as Sunday night as a tropical storm, on a collision course with the city, intensifies in strength.
Weather conditions are expected to deteriorate rapidly by Tuesday and through Wednesday, with high winds, rough seas and torrential, squally showers.
Tropical Storm Nida was over the sea east of the Philippines on Saturday and is expected to move closer to the South China coast.
On Sunday morning, Nida continued to gather in strength with speeds of 85km/h. Overnight, the typhoon moved slightly west suggesting landfall would be on Hong Kong or west of the territory. By Monday morning, the storm is expected to be within 800km of Hong Kong.
Although weather experts have stressed the exact timing and positioning of the storm is still to be determined, predictions by the Observatory put it within 100km of striking the city directly.
Queenie Lam Ching-chi, a senior scientific officer at the Observatory, urged the public to prepare for the storm and be alert for deteriorating weather conditions.
“There is still uncertainty in the forecast track and intensity for Nida. We have to keep track of its movement especially as it enters the South China Sea,” she said. “The effect could be very different if it lands to the east or west of Hong Kong.”
Clarence Fong, director of meteorological website Weather Underground, said Hong Kong faced a risk of flooding.
“Storm surge risk exists if the storm passes to our south [moving west], when we have onshore winds to push the water into the harbour,” he said, adding the risk would lessen if the storm passed to the east.
Fong said as the storm passed over the South China Sea, with the temperature over 30 degrees Celsius, it “provides good energy for intensification.” “When upper level winds are light and air is flowing out aloft, the storm can intensify rapidly,” he said.
If the storm made landfall to the west and the winds were coming from the southeast, it could cause flooding in low-lying areas, the Observatory said.
Typhoon Hagupit in 2008 skirted south of the city, however, Tai Po’s water level reached 3.8m while Victoria Harbour recorded a 3.5m level, the second-highest level recorded since Typhoon Wanda in 1962, which resulted in the flooding of Tai O, Sai Wan, Heng Fa Chuen and other areas.
Yesterday afternoon, Hong Kong’s dry spell ended abruptly as the start of the wild weather began. Storm clouds rolled in, thunder erupted, hail the size of popcorn was seen in Tai Po and winds gusting 100km/h swept through the area, causing temperatures to drop by 10 degrees Celsius. On Hong Kong Island, spared most of the storm, temperatures topped 33 degrees Celsius.