Friday, August 04, 2006

Hong Kong: Typhoon Prapiroon, the aftermath

Well, Hong Kong Observatory saw fit to raise the second-level, strong wind warning Number Three. That call is based on weather conditions in Hong Kong harbour.

Mister B has the utmost respect for the people at Hong Kong Observatory. They are required to forecast weather for what may be a small region, but it is one that is so topographically complex that there are a variety of micro-climates. It can be pouring with rain in Central or Sai Kung, and glorious sunshine 13km away on a little island in the South China Sea.

Yesterday, wind speeds with an average speed of 41 to 62 km/h were expected (in Hong Kong harbour). But as the chart in the previous post demonstrates, wind speeds on a little island in the South China Sea yo-yoed between 65 and 115km/h during the whole of yesterday. And sustained wind speeds were never less than 75km/h for almost three-quarters of the day.

Given the terrible, murderous damage and havoc a typhoon can accomplish, the weather people are also required from time to time to make the decision about whether or not to raise the Number Eight. If it does raise the Number Eight, the city closes down.

It's a huge responsibility, not an easy call. Yesterday, in many areas, including hereabouts, it was blowing a righteous gale. At the airport 111 flights were delayed, 249 canceled and 74 redirected to other airports. By midnight last night, ten thousand people were stranded at the airport.

Five hundred trees went down.

Maybe the Observatory needs to include metrics other than those just for Hong Kong harbour when it is making the decision about whether or not to raise weather warnings, most especially those that concern imminent tropical cyclones and typhoons in the neighbourhood.

Mainland China's People's Daily has a rather charming report:
At least one person was scratched by falling containers Wednesday afternoon in Hong Kong as Typhoon Prapiroon gained its strength in the South China Sea and brought occasional heavy rains and strong wind to the metropolis.
Don't you just love that opening paragraph? Scratched! For the rest: People's Daily