Hong Kong raised its storm warning level Sunday as Typhoon Koinu approaches, just a month after the city was hit by record-breaking rain that followed its strongest typhoon in five years.
(Bloomberg) — Hong Kong raised its storm warning level Sunday as Typhoon Koinu approaches, just a month after the city was hit by record-breaking rain that followed its strongest typhoon in five years.
The Observatory lifted the signal to No. 8, the third highest on its scale of five, the weather agency said on its website at 12.40 p.m. The elevated alert effectively shuts down the city, with subway trains running at limited frequencies and most stores, restaurants and businesses closed.
Koinu was estimated to be 90 kilometers (56 miles) south-southeast of Hong Kong as of 1 p.m. and was forecast to slowly move west or west-northwest toward the Pearl River estuary, according to the Observatory. Gale winds are expected to affect many parts of the finance hub and heavy squally showers may last through Monday, it said.
The tropical storm will be closest to Hong Kong Sunday night, skirting about 70 km south of the city, and the Observatory said it will assess the need for issuance of higher warning alerts.
Hong Kong insurance claims caused by natural disasters may climb to a record and exceed $500 million this year should Koinu bring more heavy rain and cause flood losses, Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Steven Lam said in a note. This is the second straight year that the No. 8 warning has been raised three times, compared with an annual average of twice in the decade through 2022, Lam said.
Maximum sustained winds recorded at the city’s Tate’s Cairn were 95 kph at around midday with gusts exceeding 120 kph. Authorities said a total of 27 temporary shelters operated by the District Offices would be open for people in need.
Most of the city’s main entertainment centers including Disneyland and Ocean Park announced they were closed because of the weather, while the Hong Kong Jockey Club said that its horserace meeting in Sha Tin was canceled “in the interest of public and equine safety.”
Late last week, Typhoon Koinu brushed past the southern tip of Taiwan, killing one and injuring more than 300 people, according to official figures.
Typhoon Koinu Hits Taiwan With One of Strongest Wind Gusts Ever
Hong Kong lies at the northern fringe of the subtropical zone and has suffered a period of extreme weather this year. Just over a month ago, the city was hit by its strongest typhoon in five years. With a maximum sustained wind of 230 kph near its center, Saola was the second-most intense tropical cyclone affecting the South China Sea since 1950, according to Hong Kong’s observatory.
Days later, record-breaking rain caused by the remnants of Typhoon Haikui flooded streets, submerged vehicles and triggered landslides.
The unique topography of Hong Kong — roads and buildings cut into steep hillsides — makes the city vulnerable to flooding and landslides from torrential summer rains that have steadily intensified over time due to climate change.
In nearby Macau, authorities said Sunday they may raise the current No. 3 signal to No. 8 between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.
–With assistance from Jane Zhang.
(Updates with new signal issued, new details from Observatory from first paragraph.)
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