“KING OF STORMS” Devastates Hong Kong, Makes Landfall in China Sunday
On Friday, two massive storms — Hurricane Florence and Typhoon Mangkhut — made devastating landfall on opposite ends the world, but are leaving behind destruction in different ways. For Florence, it was mainly a rain event in the Carolinas. For Mangkhut, it was the wind that devastated the Philippines on Friday/Saturday, and now wreaking havoc in Hong Kong and southern China on Sunday (scroll down for videos).
“Storms forming in the western Pacific tend to hit with much higher winds and the people who live in their path are often poorer and more vulnerable,” said Gabriel Vecchi, a Princeton University hurricane and climate scientist.
Mangkhut made landfall Friday on the northeastern part of Luzon island in the Philippines with sustained winds of 165 mph. Florence had been degraded to a Category 1 storm with 90 mph winds as it approached North Carolina’s coast.
One day after landfall, Mangkhut was over the open water — weakened but headed across the South China Sea toward China. Florence, meanwhile, unleashed record-setting rain on parts of the North Carolina coastline. Many regions in southeastern North Carolina have seen 15 to 30 inches of rain.
Weather experts say Mangkhut may end up being the deadlier storm.
Hong Kong and southern China braced for impact on early Sunday as damaging winds and heavy rain from Mangkhut collided with the densely populated coast, a day after officials confirmed 49 people dead on Luzon island.
Al Jazeera said approximately half a million people had been evacuated from seven major cities in Guangdong province of China, and the Hong Kong Observatory, a local newspaper, warned people to stay away from the coastline as massive waves and storm surges wiped out structures.
Mangkhut made landfall in Guangdong, a coastal province of southeast China, borders Hong Kong and Macau, on Sunday, packing wind speeds of more than 100 mph.
The national meteorological center said southern China “will face a severe test caused by wind and rain” and urged officials to prepare for a disaster.
The Hong Kong Observatory said Mangkhut had weakened, but its intense rainbands brought heavy downfall and high winds.
Bloomberg said 900 flights were canceled in Hong Kong on Sunday due to the typhoon, while bus and ferry services, as well as high-speed train service to the airport, had been suspended.
Hong Kong and Macau announced a rare No. 10 typhoon warning signal, the highest level on the weather threat system, as the storm battered the region on Sunday. CGTN reported that Macau’s main attraction, local casinos, were ordered by the government to close for the first time in history.
Incredible footage of the storm surfaced on social media showing fierce winds throwing people to the ground, swaying buildings, smashed windows and severe flooding.
“It swayed for quite a long time, at least two hours. It made me feel so dizzy,” said Elaine Wong, who lives in a high-rise tower in Kowloon.
“It’s the worst I’ve seen,” resident Martin Wong told Reuters. “I’ve not seen the roads flood like this, (and) the windows shake like this, before.”