A maximum category 10 storm slammed into Hong Kong Wednesday morning with destructive winds and waves which uprooted trees, flooded streets and forced most businesses to close.
The Hong Kong Observatory issued Hurricane Signal No. 10 at 9:10 am as the typhoon was approaching the city.
It was still in force at 1:50pm.
Adding to the misery, an Amber Rainstorm Warning Signal was also issued at 8:00 am, which remained in effect for more than four hours before it was cancelled.
Typhoon Hato landed in Zhuhai City, south China’s Guangdong Province, at noon bringing gales of 45 meters per second at its eye, according to local meteorological authorities.
The 13th typhoon this year, Hato was classified as a severe typhoon, meaning speeds of 118 kilometres per hour or more are expected.
Before landing in Zhuhai, it brought Hong Kong to a standstill.
A senior scientific officer for the Hong Kong observatory said sea levels could rise up to five metres (15 feet) in some places. The weather observatory issued a signal 10 storm warning, its highest weather warning, and said Hato will be closest to the territory in the next few hours, skirting about 50 km (31 miles) to the south of Hong Kong, and warned of flash floods.
Winds intensified in the morning, with the maximum sustained winds recorded at Tate’s Cairn and Waglan Island at 77 kmh (48 mph) and 72 kmh (48 mph), with maximum gusts of 103 kmh (64 mph) and 86 kmh (53 mph) respectively. Trading in Hong Kong’s financial markets was delayed on Wednesday morning, the stock exchange said. Trading will be suspended for the whole day if storm signal 8 or higher is in place at noon.
The city’s flagship carrier, Cathay Pacific, said the storm would “severely” impact flight operations, with the majority of flights to and from Hong Kong between 2200 GMT Tuesday and 0900 GMT Wednesday to be cancelled. Other transport services, including ferries to the gaming hub of Macau and outlying islands in Hong Kong, were suspended.
Financial markets, schools, businesses and non-essential government services close when the signal 8 or above is hoisted. Typhoon Nida in August last year was the last storm to close the stock exchange for the whole day.