The Observatory raised the T8 storm signal at 5:45am on Wednesday, as tropical cyclone Hato approaches Hong Kong.

Update: First T10 since 2012: Highest warning signal raised as Typhoon Hato set to batter Hong Kong

Photo: HKO.

“Hato will edge rather close to the Pearl River Estuary this morning. It is expected to make landfall at around 100 kilometres to the west of Hong Kong this afternoon. The number 8 gale or storm signal will remain in force for most of the time during the day,” the Observatory said.

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It would not rule out issuing a T10 – the highest storm signal – should the storm intensify.

Hato on Wednesday morning.

Temperatures on Tuesday topped 39 degrees Celsius at Tin Shui Wai’s Wetland Park and 36.6 degrees Celsius at the Observatory – the highest reading in 132 years.

Photo: HKO.

‘Tides are currently running about 0.4 metres above normal. The high tide, occurring before noon, and the storm surge induced by Hato may cause a rise in sea levels of about 1 metre or more above normal tide levels. There could be serious flooding in some low-lying areas,” the Observatory added.

Almost all bus services have been suspended, with most MTR trains running at 10-minute intervals.

Hundreds of flights have been cancelled or rescheduled. Travellers have been advised to contact their airlines.

The approaching storm was responsible for high levels of pollution recorded this week, the Environmental Protection Department said.

“The intense sunshine enhances photochemical smog activities and the formation of ozone, resulting in high ozone concentrations in the Pearl River Delta region,” the department said.

Tsim Sha Tsui on Wednesday. Photo: HKO.

Taiwan activated its disaster prevention system on Monday, whilst China issued an Orange Alert. Around 90 bullet trains set to leave Shenzhen on Wednesday have been cancelled.

Wet weather is expected to continue into the weekend.

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Tom is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hong Kong Free Press. He has a BA in Communications & New Media from Leeds University and an MA in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong. He has contributed to the BBC, Euronews, Quartz, Global Post and others.