Typhoons, literally "big winds" and also known as cyclones or hurricanes in other parts of the world, are part of life here in Hong Kong.
Although certainly not pleasant to experience, the people have become experts at dealing with such occurences in quite a very organised way.
Unlike earthquakes or other natural disasters that occur without warning, getting caught off guard by a typhoon in Hong Kong is not likely. Storms are monitored 24/7 and an early warning system is in effect as soon as a tropical storm is formed.
Typhoon season is from May through September, but you can of course also have a typhoon in April, or October and November. Historically, the highest frequency of typhoons has occured in the month of September.
When a storm is identified, the tracking and progress will be closely monitored and broadcast in local news. Signs are posted in all public places, your hotel lobby, MTR stations, etc. there is really no way to "miss" it.
A warning scale corresponds to the typhoon strength and closeness as follows (yes, the numbers in between were scrapped to avoid confusion):
Before a signal 8 is issued, plenty of warning is given several hours in advance to give everyone a chance to return home or a safe place. A Signal 8 will also indicate the direction of the gale winds.
First of all, don't panic. Being informed and taking precautions is your best course of action. Here are some do's and dont's:
Again, do not wander off too far, a Signal 3 can quickly change into an 8, make sure you stay abreast of any warnings of an impending Signal 8, once the Signal 8 is hoisted, there will be no public transport, taxis do not run because their insurance mandates so. There will be plenty of cues: stores shuterring their entrances and windows, public announcements at MTR stations, etc. and well, everyone running home.
Typhoons should be treated with respect but not paranoia. Hong Kong deals with them every year. You should not postpone or change your plans if they happen to fall in the May through September window of the infamous typhoon season. Just be aware of any warnings. When a warning is issued, be VERY alert, take the precautions outlined above and stay safe.
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Here is to a wonderful Hong Kong travel experience!
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