Tags: typhoon | usagi | china | taiwan | hong | kong

Hong Kong Raises Storm Signal as Typhoon Usagi Bears Down

Sunday, 22 September 2013 10:38 AM

HONG KONG — Hong Kong raised its third-highest storm signal as Severe Typhoon Usagi swept toward China, with the city bracing for floods and hundreds of flights canceled.

The Hong Kong Observatory hoisted its No. 8 Storm Signal with Usagi forecast to pass about 62 miles north of the city, the nearest a typhoon of this magnitude has come to the former British colony this year.

Thousands of people were evacuated by the Chinese government from coastal areas in its Fujian province as storms knocked out power lines, while travelers were stranded around the region with more than 430 flights affected at Hong Kong airport. Banks and the Hong Kong stock market will be closed in the morning should Signal 8 remain in force.

“It’s probably the worst weekend ever,” Jessica Coelho, a Hong Kong-based human resources executive who’s stranded in Singapore, said by phone today. “It’s a nightmare trying to get back. Everyone is trying to get on a plane home.”

The storm has been rated the world’s strongest typhoon this year.

The intercity rail services between Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong, Zhuhai and Shenzhen have stopped, according to the official microblog of operator Guangzhou Railway (Group) Corp. Some bullet train services will be canceled today and tomorrow, it said.

In Fujian province, Usagi-related storms knocked out three power lines, cutting off electricity to about 170,000 households before it was restored to all but 25,000, Xinhua News said.

Thousands of people have been evacuated from low-lying coastal areas in the province, Xinhua reported. The flood control headquarters ordered reinforced patrols so emergency repairs can be carried out to prevent embankment breaches.

Usagi dumped almost 28 inches of rain in Taiwan’s east yesterday, left 12 people injured and disrupted more than 100 flights, the Central Emergency Operation Center said.

While passing Taiwan, it had sustained wind speeds of more than 127 miles per hour, making it a super typhoon, according to a tracking map on the Hong Kong Observatory website.

In the Philippines, flooding forced 242 people in the north of the country to flee their homes for temporary shelters on Sept. 18, the country’s disaster agency said.

Grocery shelves were almost empty today at a Tuen Mun ParknShop store in Hong Kong, with only a few packs of instant noodles left and most vegetables sold out.

“The supermarket is so packed,” Fanny Wong, 54, a housewife who bought six packs of instant noodles, two cans of luncheon meat and some eggs, said at the store in the district’s Pierhead Garden. “People are just stocking up everything, from instant noodles, bread to ingredients for hotpot such as mushrooms, pak choi and other vegetables. It took me about half an hour to check out.”

Hong Kong, situated off China’s southern coast, gets on average about six tropical cyclones annually, according to the weather bureau. Usagi is the most powerful storm to threaten Hong Kong since Severe Typhoon Utor in August.

A severe typhoon, one grade lower than a super typhoon, is equivalent to a Category 2 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale, meaning “extremely dangerous winds will cause extensive damage,” according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center website.

“I came to Hong Kong for work last week and spent my weekend here,” Jay Johnson, a U.S.-based businessman, said today. “It was a lovely stay but now it’s such a headache getting out. I need to be in Munich for a business meeting on Monday but now I may need to cancel it.”

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Hong Kong raised its third-highest storm signal as Severe Typhoon Usagi swept toward China, with the city bracing for floods and hundreds of flights canceled.
Sunday, 22 September 2013 10:38 AM
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