HONG KONG, Sept. 1 (Reuters) – Hong Kong braced for the arrival of super typhoon Saola on Friday as authorities raised the strong wind signal to number 8, bringing the city to a standstill with most businesses, schools and the stock exchange closed.
Three tropical cyclones formed in the northwest Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea, with Saola and Haikoi already classified as typhoons, while Kiruji, the furthest from land, still classified as a tropical storm, according to meteorologists.
Typhoon Saola, with winds of more than 200 kilometers per hour (125 miles per hour), will move toward the coast of eastern Guangdong, a neighboring province on the Chinese mainland. This could be among the five strongest typhoons to hit Guangdong Province since 1949, Chinese authorities said Thursday, in their highest typhoon warning.
The city’s weather observatory said Typhoon Saola was expected to approach Hong Kong on Friday heading into Saturday morning, causing weather conditions to deteriorate rapidly.
The typhoon may make landfall on Friday evening or Saturday morning as a severe typhoon along the Huidong coast to Taishan in Guangdong, the China National Meteorological Center said, maintaining the highest red warning for typhoon.
The Hong Kong Observatory said it would consider the need to issue higher warning signals for typhoons later on Friday.
Hong Kong has five typhoon classifications, 1, 3, 8, 9 and 10, which is the strongest sign of a typhoon.
The government said all schools in Hong Kong will close on Friday, even though it is the first day of school for many. The nearby cities of Shenzhen and Guangzhou have also closed schools.
Crowds flocked to fresh food markets in downtown Hong Kong’s Wan Chai district on Thursday afternoon, with many vegetables already sold out. Supermarkets saw long lines of people to stock up before the storm.
The Hong Kong Observatory said it was expecting heavy rains and strong winds while “the water level in the city is expected to rise significantly” through Saturday, with the possibility of serious flooding.
The city’s main carrier, Cathay Pacific, said all flights to and from Hong Kong between 2pm (0600GMT) on Friday and 10am (0200GMT) on Saturday had been cancelled.
It added that more delays and cancellations of flights may be needed based on the hurricane’s path on Saturday morning.
The Macau Weather Observatory said it will raise the wind warning level to level 8 between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. on Friday. She said she expected to raise it to the highest sign of the No. 10 hurricane early Saturday morning.
Meanwhile, Typhoon Haikui is approaching Taiwan and is expected to make landfall in the northern part of the island on Sunday before heading toward the southeastern Chinese city of Fuzhou, according to Taiwan’s Central Meteorological Bureau.
Farah Master Report; (Reporting by Ben Blanchard in Taipei and Bernard Orr, Ryan Wu and Ethan Wang in Beijing; Reporting by Mohamed for the Arabic Bulletin) Editing by Lincoln Feist and Raju Gopalakrishnan
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