On Saturday, Typhoon Saola, the ninth typhoon of the season, bypassed Taiwan and approached Hong Kong and parts of Southern China, sparking the highest storm threat in the region this summer. Despite the damage that was anticipated, the storm’s impact on Hong Kong proved to be less than feared.
The storm struck the Pearl River Delta, bringing the most severe weather alert in Hong Kong for more than two years. Rainfall records were set in some areas of the city and wind gusts of up to 164 kph (102 mph) were recorded, leading to canceled flights and the closure of financial markets. This came after the Hong Kong Observatory issued a No. 10 warning, the highest warning level which has not been seen since the outbreak of Typhoon Vicente in 2012.
The effects of the storm were most noticeable in Kowloon, where some districts saw flooding and wind gusts reached over 190 kph (120 mph). However, the impact was much weaker in the outlying islands, with the wind speed there peaking at 90 kph (55 mph). Despite the disruption, the government hailed the emergency services and the population for their resilience.
The storm claimed at least two lives and resulted in the loss of electricity in some areas as it passed over Hong Kong. Despite the severe weather warnings, authorities were able to limit the damage to public property and the city’s infrastructure largely escaped unscathed. Around 100 people were forced to evacuate their homes and bailed out of waterfront areas due to the flooding.
On the mainland, the worst affected area was the Guangdong province, where the storm was felt for several hours before it moved inland. The high winds and heavy rains resulted in damage to property and infrastructure but there were no reported casualties.
Aftermath assessments are still underway, but it appears that the disruption was fewer than feared. This fortunate event can be attributed to the Hong Kong Observatory taking extra precautions, issuing warnings and deploying resources to minimize the damage a storm like Saola could cause. The government has also praised the citizens for taking measures to ensure their safety throughout the storm.
For all those affected, the government has provided emergency relief to mitigate their circumstances and pledged to help rebuild the affected areas. Saola was a wake-up call to the Hong Kong and mainland China population, but this time the tests were passed and the storm managed to pass without major consequences.