Hong Kong belongs to a region which gets its fair share of tropical storms which, at more severe cases, disrupt the daily way of life.
Typhoon season starts from May to November but may vary as climate change takes its course. Typhoons rarely make a direct hit but nonetheless be potentially dangerous as landslips, flooding and falling trees continue to pose as risks even as typhoons skirt the city. Fortunately, people are mostly protected inside concrete edifices during such storms that the news of storm signals even becomes a welcome treat.
To make things in order during inclement weather conditions, the Hong Kong Observatory set a series of warning systems to guide the public, each with its own icon indicating severity of an approaching typhoon. These notices are readily displayed on public websites, local television channels and broadcast on local radio.
T1 Standby – This is the lowest level alert and just means that a typhoon within 800 kilometer radius from Hong Kong has been spotted. It will likely be days before it poses any threat to the city though and is only meant to indicate the potential of it arriving in Hong Kong.
T3 Strong winds – Now things are hotting up and winds of at least 110km are either expected, or currently blowing at sea level and are expected to persist. Life goes on as normal, although there is the possibility of cancelled or delayed flight at the airport. Also, it prompts suspension of classes among kindergarten students.
T8 Gale or storm force winds – When this warning is issued by the Hong Kong Observatory, Hong Kong immediately begins to shut down as high winds of 180 kilometers per hour would smash into the city’s shores. All schools, work, public transport, everything will close straight away. High winds of at least 180km will be blasting through the harbour. The airport will be diverting most, if not all flights.
T9 Increasing gale or storm force winds – This warning is issued when winds are continuing to strengthen. Travel is not recommended and the public is advised to stay indoors.
T10 Typhoon – This is a major event and usually results in large scale damage and even deaths. Direct hits are rare but they do happen — the last one was in July 2012. Violent winds will smash into Hong Kong and extra precaution, even indoors should be practiced. For instance, taping glass windows may help stabilize and prevent breaking.