Super Typhoon Saola’s top wind speeds recorded at 205km per hour (127mph) as it approaches China’s southern coast.
Hong Kong has grounded flights, shut down its stock market and closed schools as super Typhoon Saola barrels towards China’s southern coast.
The finance hub issued a T8 threat warning – the city’s third-highest – at about 2:40am local time on Friday (18:40 GMT on Thursday).
Saola’s wind speeds topped 205 kilometres per hour (127 miles per hour) as it came within 230km (142 miles) east-southeast of the financial hub at about 8:00am local time (00:00 GMT), Hong Kong’s observatory said.
The weather would “deteriorate rapidly” throughout the day, the observatory said, warning of the possibility of serious flooding in low-lying coastal areas. Members of the public were also warned to stay away from the shoreline.
On China’s mainland, authorities issued the highest typhoon warning for the storm, which state media said would make landfall “in the coastal areas stretching from Huilai to Hong Kong” on Friday afternoon or evening.
Guangdong province also declared a windstorm emergency level I – the highest level of emergency response.
China’s National Meteorological Centre has issued a red alert, “the most serious level of its four-tier warning system” and more than 100,000 people have been relocated in eastern China’s Fujian province ahead of the typhoon’s arrival, the state-run Global Times media outlet reported.
More than 100,000 residents in East China’s Fujian Province have been relocated as of Thursday night as Typhoon #Saola is predicted to make landfall in coastal regions of the country on Friday, bringing heavy rainfall to the province.https://t.co/yBcWoCVwX7 pic.twitter.com/YsdCTkvyNB
— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) September 1, 2023
Several Chinese cities delayed the start of the school year as a precaution and China Railway Guangzhou Group said nearly 4,000 trains were suspended between Thursday and Sunday, state media CCTV earlier reported.
A direct hit on Hong Kong is rare, but the observatory said it would “assess the need to issue higher tropical cyclone warning signals” in the evening.
Cathay Pacific airline said it cancelled all flights in and out of Hong Kong between 06:00 GMT on Friday and 02:00 GMT on Saturday. Budget airline HK Express also announced it was cancelling 70 Friday and Saturday flights in and out of Hong Kong.
China’s transport ministry has deployed 16 rescue-and-salvage ships and nine rescue helicopters to areas set to be hit by the storm, state news agency Xinhua said.
Saola passed just south of Taiwan on Wednesday before turning to mainland China, with the storm’s outer bands hitting the island’s southern cities with torrential rain
Saola also displaced thousands as it passed the northern Philippines, but no direct casualties have been reported so far.
A second typhoon, Haikui, is currently approaching Taiwan and is expected to make landfall on the northern part of the island on Sunday before heading towards the eastern Chinese city of Fuzhou, according to Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau.
Southern China is frequently hit in the summer and autumn by typhoons that form in the warm oceans east of the Philippines and then travel west.
While they can cause temporary disruption to cities like Hong Kong and Macau, fatalities have become much less common thanks to stronger building codes and better flood management systems.