The No 8 typhoon signal was hoisted at 5.20pm yesterday as severe tropical storm Kompasu skirted within 400 kilometers south of Hong Kong.
The city experienced a second storm in just three days, marking the first time it has seen two No 8 alerts hoisted within four days, after Lionrock's influence faded on Sunday. As of 8pm, authorities received nine reports of toppled trees and an injured man.
The observatory appears to have "learned its lesson" when handling the forecast for Kompasu, after its inconsistent prediction on Lionrock over the weekend was heavily criticized. It hoisted the No 8 signal at 6.40am on Saturday without any prior warning and delayed multiple times the possible time at which it would be downgraded to a No 3 signal.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said the government will work on improving its dissemination of information, which she also mentioned in her policy address last Wednesday.
Like last time, the observatory did not issue the standby signal No 1 and jumped to strong wind signal No 3 directly at 12.40am yesterday. But the forecasters warned of a gale or storm signal far earlier this time round - at noon y- saying it is likely to upgrade the typhoon warning signal to No 8 between 4pm to 6pm. At 3.20pm, the observatory said it will issue a No 8 signal by 5.20pm.
According to the forecast at 7.45pm, Kompasu will be closest to Hong Kong early this morning, skirting within 400km to the south of the territory, and the No 8 signal will remain in force at least till before sunrise.
The observatory also reminded the public to take precautions against strong winds and flooding as storm surges induced by Kompasu and heavy rain may lead to flooding in low-lying areas.
People should stay away from the shoreline and not engage in water sports as seas will be rough with swells, it added.
Many workers were let off earlier and rushed home before the No 8 signal was raised. The MTR increased its train and bus service frequencies to meet passenger demand during those hours.
Bus companies also strengthened their day-time services to cope with the increased demand. Long queues appeared at Hung Hom Cross Harbour Tunnel Toll Plaza and Admiralty as people headed home. Some people said the observatory has improved its announcement services.
"They have given the warning earlier this time. It could be because of people's complaints earlier," a man surnamed Chow said.
People hoped the observatory would give warnings in advance detailing when it is going to downgrade the typhoon signal to No 3 to avoid chaos when people return to work.
People also rushed to catch the last ferry to Cheung Chau at the Central Ferry Pier as all of Sun Ferry's local ferry services were suspended after 6pm.
All New World First Bus and Citybus routes were suspended gradually from 7.30pm last night - barring the limited service of three Citybus routes - while Kowloon Motor Bus and Long Win Bus also suspended their daytime routes at 8pm save for two LWB routes.
Boatmen in Sam Ka Tsuen, Lei Yue Mun, anchored their boats at the shelter, while merchants put up wood boards and sandbags to prevent water flooding into their shops.
Residents in Heng Fa Chuen prepared for the typhoon by taping their windows. One resident said she hoped the government can build breakwaters at Heng Fa Chuen.
Meanwhile, the Education Bureau announced the suspension of classes of all schools at 11.45am.
Authorities announced the suspension of public services, including the closure of swimming pools and all vaccination centers, by 3pm to brace for Kompasu's arrival.
Jockey Club Lotteries said the Mark Six draw originally scheduled for last night would be postponed to tomorrow. Tickets will remain valid.
And Secretary for Home Affairs Casper Tsui Ying-wai canceled his one-day trip to Shenzhen yesterday.