Hong Kong Observatory will raise the T8 storm signal at or before 5pm, it said this afternoon, as Typhoon Linfa moved within 170 kilometres of Hong Kong.

The weather will “deteriorate quickly”, forecasters said, as the storm made landfall in Guangdong and edged towards Hong Kong.

Classes at all schools were suspended for the day just before 3pm, the government’s Education Bureau said.

The warning came after the Observatory this morning issued the first T3 signal of the season.

In a statement the Observatory said: “Hong Kong Observatory announces that the Tropical Cyclone Warning Signal Number 8 is expected to be issued at or before 5pm today. Winds locally will strengthen further.

“The Government advises members of the public with long or difficult home journeys or having to return to outlying islands to begin their journeys now. The Government is now making arrangements to release its employees accordingly.”

It added: “Currently, northerly winds are prevailing over Hong Kong and due to sheltering by terrain, the strengthening of the winds has been relatively gradual. As the rainbands of Linfa move closer, local weather will deteriorate quickly near dusk and winds will strengthen significantly.”

The Observatory’s storm tracker – which predicts the path of typhoons – showed Linfa was likely to hit Clearwater Bay in the east before moving across Hong Kong Island and Lamma Island.

Kindergartens and schools for pupils with special needs were closed for the day, the government announced this morning, while the marine department issued a warning to vessel owners to “take precautionary measures immediately and properly secure their vessels at safe locations”.

The government’s Social Welfare Department advised people not to take their children or family members to child care centres, elderly services centres or day rehabilitation units, but said they would remain open to serve those whose families cannot provide alternative care.

The Home Affairs Department activated a round-the-clock hotline, on 2835 1473, for public enquiries about the tropical cyclone.

Forecasters at the Observatory have consistently said that Linfa is an unpredictable storm and that they cannot be sure of the path it will take.

Red flags were this morning raised at beaches across Hong Kong warning swimmers to stay out of the water.  The signals were hoisted at: Repulse Bay Beach, Middle Bay Beach, South Bay Beach, Chung Hom Kok Beach, Turtle Cove Beach, Shek O Beach and Big Wave Bay Beach in Southern District, Hong Kong Island; Hung Shing Yeh Beach, Lo So Shing Beach, Kwun Yam Beach, Cheung Chau Tung Wan Beach, Silver Mine Bay Beach, Pui O Beach, Upper Cheung Sha Beach, Lower Cheung Sha Beach and Tong Fuk Beach in Islands District; and Silverstrand Beach, Clear Water Bay First Beach and Clear Water Bay Second Beach in Sai Kung District.

The storm comes following the hottest June since records began in 1884. An Observatory spokesman said the unusually high temperatures were “undeniable” proof of global warming.

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