Friday, October 3, 2008

Typhoon 颱風


just when i thought we has seen the last of the typhoons another one (called Higos) is on its way after passing through the Philippines.

this year we have had four signal 8 or higher (see below) typhoons batter Hong Kong.
it's always seems a bit fishy to me as they often hit us on our precious weekends, or during the night to be gone by the time we have to go to work the next morning... govenments....
you see, when we get a typhoon signal 8 the whole of Hong Kong shuts down, including work, so yippie we get to go home! if only they would come on a friday or monday...
but the one on the way looks like it may hit us on moday, and its the Chung Yeung Festival holiday (
重陽節) here on tuesday which means if my wish comes true we may just get a 4-day weekend. now wouldn't that be bliss.

when i first came to Hong Kong and i saw these funny symbols pop-up on TV and placed at MTR (subway) stations i had no idea what they meant.
to give you an idea there are currently a total of 8 different typhoon warning signals.
don't ask me why it skips from 3 to 8, but this is what they mean:

OK, no need to panic here, it just means that a typhoon has been spotted. it may not even come close to Hong Kong.

a bit of action now. winds pick up with gusts of up to 110 km/hour. things carry on as normal here but we are told to take things off balconies and tie-down any objects which could get blown away. you might wanna bring in any expensive clothes you have dangling from you apartment windows at this stage!

now Hong Kong comes to a standstill.
as winds may exceed 180km/hour we are advised to leave work and go straight home or somewhere safe. obviously to some this means a movie theater judging from the long lines or for a few its a chance to get a free drink as some bars in Wanchai or Lan Kwai Fong giveaway shots! but if you are gonna brave the wind and rain for a drink, just remember that just about all public transport stops running and taxis will add a "typhoon" surcharge to your ride home.
when the signal 8 is issued many buildings put tape over large windows, restaurants and shops start closing so it's best to stock-up on some snacks and some DVDs, and many flights into and out of Hong Kong will be either cancelled or diverted.

this number 9 signal is a bit odd as it just means that the winds are going to be stronger than those of a signal 8.
it also means that those still drinking their free shots should probably go home!

Signal 10, which i have yet to experience as the last one was in 1999, means basically a "direct hit".
wind gusts may exceed 220km/h, ouch.
often when the "eye" of the typhoon is over the city all can be calm, but don't think it's over yet, cos it's not.

hard to image now, but up until 1937 guns and cannons where fired to alert the public when a typhoon was approaching Hong Kong. The frequency of the firing was also an indication on how intense the typhoon was. Now we are just glued to the internet checking out the Hong Kong Observatories website.

right at this moment the signal 1 has been issued and Higos is making its way towards China's Hainan Island and should be closest to Hong Kong in a few days time.
i just may get my 4-day weekend.

Higos' current track


pascale said...

I do remember praying real hard for signal no.8 when I was still at school in HK.

Okay, I prayed for the same thing when I was working too... :p

world of sekimachihato said...

* pascale
yes, we all love a signal 8 on a working day, that's for sure!
but unfortunatly Higos decided to bypass hong kong and we were left going to work in the wind & rain...

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