The No. 8 storm signal has been issued, as Severe Tropical Storm Ma-on came near Hong Kong. It was the second T8 signal this year.
The Hong Kong Observatory hoisted the alert at 7:25 p.m. on Wednesday, as Ma-on was centred around 310 kilometres southeast of Hong Kong. “This means that winds with mean speeds of 63 kilometres per hour or more are expected,” the Observatory said.
Ma-on was expected to be closest to Hong Kong on Thursday morning, when it would skirt within 200 metres of the city, “posing a considerable threat to the territory,” according to the Observatory. The T8 signal will remain in force until at least 6 a.m. on Thursday.
Squally showers and thunderstorms were forecast, while residents were urged to stay away from the shoreline.
A very hot weather warning was in place for much of Wednesday, with temperatures reaching highs of around 33 degrees Celsius before winds picked up. Gusts reaching 101 kilometres per hour were recorded before 6.30 p.m. at Green Island off the Kennedy Town shoreline.
The strong wind signal no. 3 was issued at 12:40 p.m. on Wednesday.
Risk of flooding
In a press briefing on Wednesday late afternoon, the Observatory said the storm surge coincided with an astronomical tide, which increased the risk of flooding in some areas.
“Under the influence of storm surge and the astronomical high tide, a high water level of about 1 metre above the normal tide height is expected at Quarry Bay between 5 a.m. and 9 a.m. tomorrow. The high water level may cause flooding in low-lying and coastal areas,” Acting Senior Scientific Officer Or Ming-keung said.
Authorities also warned of potential serious flooding and tidal backflow in low-lying areas in Tai O, as the sea level there may rise to 3 metres above normal level or more at around 6 a.m. tomorrow. An emergency co-ordination centre at the Tai O Rural Committee Office was activated.
Bus companies, including NWFB and Citybus, and KMB and LWB, announced on Wednesday evening that most services would be suspended from 10 p.m., and that all overnight services would stop running.
Before the T8 was issued, the MTR said it would increase the frequency of its services to meet passenger demand.
Ferry companies announced that most services would be suspended soon after the No. 8 signal was raised.
Classes at kindergartens, schools for children with disabilities were suspended on Wednesday. The announcement came as early as 10:30 a.m., when the standby signal No.1 was in force.
The Leisure and Cultural Services Department announced that lifesaving services at Hap Mun Bay beach and Trio beach in Sai Kung District were suspended. Red flags, which warn people against swimming, were hoisted at several beaches, including at Deep Water Bay, Silverstrand, Stanley, Shek O, Repulse Bay, Hung Shing Yeh, Cheung Chau Tung Wan and Pui O.
The Hospital Authority said all general out-patient evening clinics would be closed, but that accident and emergency services remain as normal.
The Social Welfare Department announced that all welfare service units, all child care centres, centres providing after school care programmes, elderly services centres and day rehabilitation units including sheltered workshops, integrated vocational rehabilitation services centres, integrated vocational training centres and day activity centres will be closed.
The Home Affairs Department, meanwhile, activated a round-the-clock hotline for the public to make inquiries regarding the typhoon.
Typhoon Signal 8
When the No. 8 signal is issued, gale or storm force winds are affecting, or expected to affect, Hong Kong.
- The Hong Kong Observatory will make a special announcement within two hours before the signal is hoisted. Most offices and businesses will then close and people without special reasons for staying out are expected to go home.
- All school classes and most government services will halt.
- Ferry services will give notice as to when they will stop running, while most bus routes will halt within two hours after the signal is issued.
- MTR trains will run normally unless weather conditions worsen.
- Citizens should return home or stay in a safe place, and avoid low-lying areas likely to be flooded.
- Temporary shelters will be opened in government buildings for people with no safe refuge.
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