Hong Kong Ramps Up Typhoon Preparations, With Taiwan Set To Escape Direct Hit
Hong Kong is expected to have a concrete idea come Friday if whether it will face the full force of Super Typhoon Mangkhut. The monster storm is expected to hit this weekend.
According to South China Morning Post, forecasters in the metro and the surrounding region were overseeing the typhoon's change of directions on Thursday night. They also looked for signs that would indicate the impact it may bring.
For Hong Kong, everything pretty much depends on how Mangkhut makes its way across the Philippines, particularly in the latter's most populous island of Luzon.
Super Typhoon Mangkhut is reportedly a category 5 Atlantic hurricane, which is by far the highest five-tier wind scale for a tropical cyclone. It was last seen hurtling towards the northern Philippines on Thursday night and was looming around with a speed of 850 km (528 miles) from its capital.
Packing winds of 240km/h (149mph), it was believed to smash through Luzon as early as Saturday morning and would heavily affect Manila. From there, it is forecasted to head to China's densely populated Guangdong province and skirting by Hong Kong.
However, the storm's direction is changing slightly and is instead heading to the west-northwest. The Hong Kong Observatory announced that Mangkhut would come within about 200km (124 miles) of the city on Sunday evening, which seems to be a wider berth compared to Wednesday's forecast of 80km (50 miles).
"There are still a lot of uncertainties. We will be able to get a more accurate forecast after it passes Luzon," the Observatory's senior scientific officer, Olivia Lee Shuk-ming, said.
Clarence Fong Chi-kong, who is a meteorologist at the Macau-based ESCAP/WMO Typhoon Committee, revealed on Thursday afternoon that the typhoon would appear to be taking "a more westerly path than forecast and it may hit Luzon and weaken," Yahoo! News reports.
"While a storm is crossing Luzon, it is possible that it will turn more westerly ... some storms will recover from the deflection after entering the South China Sea, but some may not," he said.
Lee also warned Hongkongers to expect "significant deterioration" in weather come Sunday alongside gusty winds and rain of more than 100mm.
"Besides the winds, the extensive circulation of Mangkhut will start bringing frequent heavy rain to Hong Kong on Sunday," she said.
The storm is named after the Thai word for the mangosteen fruit. Preparations for its arrival in the city were already in full swing as early on Thursday, and most were implemented in parts of the metro hit by Super Typhoon Hato last year.