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Hong Kong weather

Typhoon Meranti could ruin Hong Kong Mid-Autumn Festival fun

Hong Kong Observatory hopeful penumbral lunar eclipse will still be visible

PUBLISHED : Monday, 12 September, 2016, 1:22pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 13 September, 2016, 9:34am

A powerful typhoon barrelling ­towards Hong Kong is expected to spare the city a direct hit, but it could put a serious dampener on Thursday’s Mid-Autumn Festival celebrations.

Meranti, named after a type of tree from Malaysia, strengthened into a super typhoon on Monday afternoon and was forecast to come within 800km of Hong Kong tomorrow.

The storm is expected to weaken slightly into a severe ­typhoon when it is closest to the city – within 400km – on Thursday when the festival is celebrated.

The typhoon was about 900 km east-southeast of Kaohsiung, Taiwan, last night and was expected to intensify over two days while moving northwest towards the coast of southeast China.

The Observatory said Meranti could bring showers and clouds, disrupting Hongkongers’ full moon-gazing activities and traditional lantern displays.

The forecast for Tuesday and Wednesday was mainly fine and very hot weather, with some haze and a few squally thunderstorms later.

The outlook for the day of the festival is cloudy with a few showers and frequent squalls later. The weather is expected to remain rainy on the following public ­holiday on Friday and Saturday.

A food safety scandal has ­already cast a shadow over the festival, after Macau authorities found traditional mooncakes made by Hong Kong-based Hang Heung Bakery contained excessive amounts of a cancer-causing substance, although local health bosses have decided against banning sales of the brand’s cakes.

The Observatory remains hopeful that the penumbral lunar eclipse expected early Saturday morning will still be visible as Meranti leaves Hong Kong and heads towards Guangdong.

The rare astronomical event, which has happened only once in the past 20 years, will last for four hours and three minutes, beginning at 12.53am on Saturday, when the moon enters the earth’s shadow, with the maximum eclipse at 2.54am.

“It will still be quite cloudy but less heavy than the two days ­before, so there are chances that it will be viewable from in ­between the clouds,” Observatory senior scientific officer Cheng Yuen-chung said, adding that rain would be more frequent later that night.

“There will be a small chance for people to see the moon on Thursday.”