Hong Kong

Hong Kong observatory and tropical cyclone warning signals

Now that Nesat has moved past Hong Kong it is time to reflect on the great warning system in place in Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong observatory tracks the passing storms, tropical cyclones, typhoons, hurricanes and much more. It informs the public about the weather conditions and if it is too hot or cold, issues hot or cold weather warnings with instructions how to cope with it. More importantly, it also issues thunderstorm, black rain and storm warnings.

Tropical cyclones normally occur during the months of May to November, and are particularly prevalent during September. Tropical cyclone advisory bulletins and/or warnings are issued by the Hong Kong observatory whenever a tropical cyclone centred within 800km of Hong Kong poses a threat to the territory. As soon as a tropical cyclone warning signal is issued, it is announced on radio, tv and the Web, and all public buildings put up signs announcing the signal. So you really can’t miss it!

There are five tropical cyclone warning signals in place:
1 – This is issued when a tropical cyclone is centred within about 800km of Hong Kong and may affect the territory. This happens a couple of times of the year and you can notice the wind and the rain
3 – Strong wind is expected or blowing generally in Hong Kong near sea level, with a sustained speed of 41-62 km/h and gusts which may exceed 110km/h and the wind condition is expected to persist. At this stage ferries and buses will still run normally
8 – Gale or storm force wind is expected or blowing generally in Hong Kong near sea level, with a sustained speed of 63-117 km/h and gusts which may exceed 180km/h and the wind condition is expected to persist. At this stage ferry and buses stop, offices and government buildings close, people should stay indoors. Adhesive tape is fixed to large window panes in exposed positions to reduce damage by broken glass
9 – Gale or storm force wind is increasing or expected to increase significantly in strength – this is even worse than a warning signal 8, so stay inside and stay safe
10 – Hurricane force wind is expected or blowing with sustained speed reaching upwards from 118km/h and gusts that may exceed 220km/h – this is serious, seek shelter

Provided that public transport services are available, employees are usually required to work when typhoon warning signal number 3 or below is issued. However, this changes when a warning signal number 8 is announced. For safety reasons, employees should stay at home (if it is before working hours) or before the signal is issued, make their way home. When warning signals number 9 or 10 are in force, employees are not required to work.

The Hong Kong observatory website provides all these infos and more – so it is a really helpful. Here is how they tracked and provided info about Nesat last Thursday:

(1) At 9.45 the T8 signal was still in place:

Here is the radar picture:

Plus the tracking of the cyclone path:

(2) At 12.45 the situation was still the same, Nesat was still close to Hong Kong:

The radar showed that Nesat had only moved a little:

It was still close to Hong Kong:

Here is one of the bulletins issued:

(3) Finally at 16.15 the T8 was downgraded to a T3 warning signal:

Nesat had moved to the South of China:

And the bulletin announced that the strong winds have become lighter:

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