Hong Kong Braces For Worst Storm In 34 Years As Typhoon Usagi Approaches, “Astronomical” Storm Surge Forecast

T8 signal raised in Hong Kong as Typhoon Usagi closes in

Hong Kong Observatory has issued No 8 storm signal for Typhoon Usagi

Sunday, 22 September, 2013 [UPDATED: 6:52PM]

Tanna Chong, Ada Lee and Joanna Chiu


The Hong Kong Observatory issued the T8 Tropical Cyclone Warning Signal at 6.40pm today. The government advises members of the public with long or difficult journeys home or having to return to outlying islands to begin their journey now. “The water level may rise and cause flooding in the evening,” said Sandy Song Man-kuen, the observatory’s senior scientific officer. The Macau Observatory said the No 8 northwest storm signal would be hoisted before 7pm. The Hong Kong Obsevatory said that Usagi would make landfall to the east of Hong Kong and will skirt the territory at around 100km or less to the north later tonight and early tomorrow morning. A storm surge induced by Usagi may still lead to flooding in low-lying areas tomorrow morning. The Observatory said the public should be on the alert and take precautions against strong winds and flooding as early as possible.

China’s National Meteorological Centre has said that Usagi is likely to land tonight somewhere between Huilai and Huidong on Guangdong’s eastern coast, only 50km east of Hong Kong.

The Airport Authority said 166 arriving and 187 departing flights had been cancelled so far, while 42 arrivals and 25 departures had been delayed. Flight operations may be affected today and tomorrow, and passengers are advised to contact their airlines for the latest flight information.

Hundreds of travellers are stranded in the airport in Chep Lap Kok waiting for rearrangements of their flights.

Other transport services have also been affected. The New World First Ferry said the last inter-island services would depart from 2.50pm onwards, but added that it may have to suspend services before the typhoon signal No 8 was hoisted.

The Star Ferry said services connecting Central and Wanchai to Tsim Sha Tsui would be suspended within one hour after the signal No 8 was hoisted.

The Transport Department said ferries connecting Tuen Mun, Tung Chung, Sha Lo Wan and Tai O had been halted.

According to Cotai Jet, services going to and from Macau would be gradually suspended in the afternoon, but would be cut-off pending the signal No 8.

The Hong Kong Jockey Club cancelled today’s race meeting at Sha Tin Racecourse and said it planned to reschedule for Wednesday  October 30, subject to government approval.

About a dozen hardcore surfers remained in Big Wave Bay an hour or two before the No 8 signal was hoisted. They said the wave was not particularly strong. The beach was so popular that the 30 parking lots were almost full.

But some surfers did give up. “The wave is really strong. It could be more dangerous later,” said Ted Wong.

Technicians at the Daya Bay nuclear power plant in Guangdong took steps to ensure the installation was secure. The Security Bureau said the government had contingency plans in case of the nuclear plant was damaged.

Observatory senior scientific officer Mok Hing-yim warned of “astronomical” high tides and a storm surge.

Usagi will be closest to Hong Kong this evening. Shoppers cleared supermarket shelves of food as word spread that it could deliver a direct hit to the city.

The storm lashed the east and south coasts of Taiwan as it passed between the island and the Philippines’ Batanes island chain yesterday. While the storm had weakened from super typhoon status, at least two people were killed in the Philippines and two others were missing.

“This is the strongest typhoon to hit Batanes in 25 years,” Dina Abad, congresswoman for the Batanes islands, said. “The howling winds began at midnight and they churned up to eight-metre waves that damaged the port and sank moored fishing boats.”

Taiwan’s defence ministry deployed more than 1,600 soldiers to evacuate people living in areas vulnerable to flooding and landslides, according to theUnited Daily News. Mudslide warnings were issued for seven counties. Taiwan cancelled 82 domestic and international flights yesterday, with 33 delayed.

In Hong Kong, Cathay Pacific and Dragonair cancelled all flights into and out of the city from 6pm today. China Airlines cancelled 26 flights between Hong Kong and Taiwan and Indonesia. Hong Kong Airlines and Hong Kong Express also cancelled at least six flights. Mok said that if the typhoon signal No 8 was issued, Usagi would be the strongest typhoon to hit Hong Kong since Typhoon Hope in 1979, which killed 12 people and injured 260.

Typhoon Usagi Bears Down on Hong Kong, Threatens China

Hong Kong is bracing for possible floods and thousands of travelers are stranded in the city and across the region as Typhoon Usagi moves toward southern China after battering Taiwan. More than 400 flights have been affected, with Cathay Pacific Airways (293) Ltd., Hong Kong’s biggest carrier, canceling flights. The storm, the most powerful to threaten the city since Severe Typhoon Utor in August, is about 260 kilometers (161 miles) east of Hong Kong, the observatory said. Usagi will disrupt travel as people in the China region try to return home at the end of a long holiday weekend to celebrate the Chinese Mid-Autumn festival. Residents in Hong Kong are emptying shelves at supermarkets, as they prepare for the heavy rain and flooding predicted by the observatory.

“I was hoping to buy some adhesive tape to steady my glass windows but they are all sold out,” said Vicky Tang, 32, a piano teacher in Hong Kong. “I don’t know if I can get one in the hardware store before the typhoon hits.”

The storm, which was predicted by the observatory to pose a threat to Hong Kong before losing speed, is forecast to move west-northwest at about 20 kilometres per hour across the northeastern part of the South China Sea, the weather bureau said at 2:45 p.m. local time. The agency issued a strong wind signal, No. 3, which means maximum sustained winds of 41km-62km per hour are expected.

Taiwan Battered

Usagi dumped as much as 70 centimeters of rain in Taiwan’s east yesterday, left nine people injured and disrupted more than 100 flights before moving away from the island, the Central Emergency Operation Center said today. More than 3,000 people were evacuated, it said.

Shipping between China and Taiwan was partially suspended as Usagi heads toward China’s coast, the official Xinhua news agency reported. All lines from Quanzhou to Kinmen were canceled yesterday and most from Xiamen to Kinmen were halted, Xinhua said.

Air China Ltd. (601111) canceled 148 flights today as airports in Xiamen, Shantou, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Zhuhai, Hong Kong and Macau were affected. It may adjust more flights depending on weather conditions.

Panic Buying

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.”

Cathay Pacific Airways and its Hong Kong Dragon Airlines Ltd. unit will stop operations in the city from 6 p.m. today. Hong Kong Airlines also canceled all flights out of the city from 6 p.m. today, it said.

Shun Tak Holdings Ltd. (242) stopped its TurboJet ferry service between Hong Kong and Macau’s Taipa. TurboJet’s services between Hong Kong and Macau’s outer harbor remain normal until further notice, it said.

“If Usagi’s speed of movement matches with the time of the astronomical high tide, storm surge induced by Usagi may still lead to flooding in low-lying areas tomorrow morning,” the Hong Kong observatory said at 1:45 p.m.

Typhoon Season

At its current maximum sustained wind speed of 165 kilometers an hour as of 1:45 p.m., Usagi is classified as a severe typhoon, one grade lower than a super typhoon. It’s 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.

Hong Kong, situated off China’s southern coast, gets on average about six tropical cyclones annually, according to the weather bureau. Severe Typhoon Vicente, the most serious storm to hit Hong Kong since 1999, brought schools, banks and flights to a halt last year as it felled trees and damaged a coal conveyor belt.

To contact the reporter on this story: Vinicy Chan in Hong Kong at vchan91@bloomberg.net


Flight chaos as Hong Kong hunkers down for huge typhoon

Sunday, September 22, 2013 – 17:03

Dennis Chong


HONG KONG – Severe Typhoon Usagi made landfall in southern China Sunday evening, shutting down one of the world’s busiest sea ports in nearby Hong Kong and throwing flight schedules into disarray from Europe to the United States.

Usagi packed winds of 165 kilometres (103 miles) per hour as it closed in on China’s densely populated Pearl River Delta, forcing some residents in vulnerable areas to tape up windows and stock up on supplies.

The storm, described by meteorologists as the most powerful anywhere on Earth this year, killed two people in the Philippines and unleashed landslides in Taiwan en route to southern China.

The Hong Kong Observatory hoisted the No.8 signal – the third of a five-step tropical storm warning.

Authorities in the southern Chinese city said it was likely to bring “severe” disruption, with transport systems affected and expectations of high waves and flooding in low-lying areas.

Local meteorological authorities told China’s Xinhua news agency that the storm made landfall at 7.40pm (1140 GMT) near Guangdong’s Shanwei city, sparing densely populated Hong Kong a direct hit.

But at Hong Kong’s Chek Lap Kok airport, airline counters were besieged by anxious passengers hoping to rebook their flights after the Cathay Pacific group said it was cancelling all its flights from 6:00 pm Sunday.

With many other airlines following suit, only a handful of flights were still scheduled to land or take off after 6:00 pm. Incoming flights from London, Sydney and Chicago among other cities were cancelled, and thousands of people risked being stranded at their point of origin or in Hong Kong.

Operators at Hong Kong’s sea port, one of the world’s busiest, ceased work late on Saturday, stranding many giant tankers in sea channels not far from shore.

The financial hub is well versed in typhoon preparations and enforces strict building codes, so rarely suffers major loss of life as a result of tropical storms.

But the observatory warned against complacency.

China’s National Meteorological Centre earlier issued a “red alert” – its highest-level warning – for Usagi, which means rabbit in Japanese. It forecast gale-force winds and heavy rain.

Sunday is a regular business day in China but in Xiamen city, on the coast of Fujian province, authorities called off school classes and suspended ferries to Taiwan.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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