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Typhoon Koinu; Hong Kong closed schools, issues warning 



Typhoon Koinu nears Hong Kong as schools shut down. Photo: Barrons


Hong Kong issued its third-highest storm warning signal — prompting the closure of some transport services and schools — on Sunday as Typhoon Koinu skirted the financial hub, bringing rains and powerful gusts.

Koinu comes just a month after the financial hub was lashed by Typhoon Saola, which triggered Hong Kong’s highest “T10” storm alert.

A week after that, the city experienced its highest rainfall in nearly 140 years, flooding subway stations and malls, and causing landslides.

Hong Kong’s weather observatory on Sunday warned of strong winds and intense rain bands as Koinu moved towards the Pearl River Estuary and entered within 100 kilometres (62 miles) south of the city.

“Koinu will be closest to Hong Kong tonight, skirting about 70 kilometres south,” said the Hong Kong Observatory, warning the public to avoid low-lying areas in case of a storm surge.

It added that it would assess the need to issue higher storm warning signals based on wind speeds.

Typhoon Koinu’s “T8” signal — the third-highest in Hong Kong’s warning system — is triggered when a storm’s sustained wind speed goes up to 117 kilometres (72 miles) an hour.

The storm’s maximum sustained wind speed was observed at 145 kilometres per hour.

Schools, daycare centres, cargo terminals, ferries and buses announced the suspension of operations for the day or in the afternoon.

More than 30 flights had been cancelled at around 11:00 am (0300 GMT), according to the Hong Kong International Airport’s website.

Before moving to Hong Kong, Koinu had grazed nearby Taiwan, bringing torrential rain and record-breaking winds to its outlying Orchid Island.

It left at least one dead, and knocked out the power to hundreds of thousands of homes.

Southern China is frequently hit in summer and autumn by typhoons that form in the warm oceans east of the Philippines and then travel west.

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