Warning raised over two storms

The strong wind signal No 3 is likely to replace the standby signal today as Tropical Storm Barijat bears down on the city.

Sophie Hui

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

The strong wind signal No 3 is likely to replace the standby signal today as Tropical Storm Barijat bears down on the city.

The Hong Kong Observatory hoisted the standby signal No 1 at 10.40am yesterday, when Barijat kept at a distance of about 400 kilometers east to southeast of Hong Kong, moving slowly closer to the coast of western Guangdong.

Weathermen also warned that people must prepare for Super Typhoon Mangkhut, which had winds of 185 kilometers an hour at its center when it hit Guam yesterday.

There is a 40 to 50 percent chance that Mangkhut will hit Hong Kong around Sunday, they added.

Hong Kong is forecast to see frequent heavy rain with squalls and thunderstorms on Sunday and Monday and seas will be rough. The city will possibly be hit by gale-force winds, triggering a signal No 8. But acting senior scientific officer Daniel Yeung Kwok-chung said the super typhoon is still 2,800 kilometers from Hong Kong and might change course.

Barijat's squally showers, meanwhile, will affect the city gradually. Rain and thunderstorms can be expected today and tomorrow. There will be swells, too.

Fresh northeasterly winds are expected today. Winds will become stronger later in the day. Barijat - a Marshall Islands term for a coast hit by waves and winds - is worsening air quality.

The Environmental Protection Department said sunshine enhanced the smog activity and the formation of ozone and fine particulates, which promote the formation of nitrogen dioxide.

At 4pm, the air quality health index in most districts reached the very high level.

The ozone concentration level in districts that include Central and Western, Tuen Mun, Tung Chung and Tsuen Wan exceeded the World Health Organization's limit.

The mainland weather authority predicted that Mangkhut, named after a Thai fruit, could become the "typhoon king" - the strongest typhoon to hit China this year - as it moves toward the coast of central Guangdong.

It should be even stronger than Typhoon Jebi, which hit Japan last week, weathermen said.

The observatory said the super typhoon will move across the western North Pacific and intensify further in the next few days.

Yeung said Mangkhut may pose a threat to the South China coast over the weekend.

"There is a chance that Mangkhut will be very close to Hong Kong," he said. "It will pass over the Luzon Strait and enter the South China Sea, and its strength will still remain at a super-typhoon level. Its associated heavy rain, squalls and storm surge may affect the south China coast."

Meanwhile, Cathay Pacific said rebooking, rerouting and refund charges will be waived for all tickets arriving in Hong Kong or departing the city on Sunday and Monday.

The airline expects flights may be delayed or canceled this weekend because of Mangkhut.