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Typhoon Saola makes landfall in Southern China

The typhoon was already causing disruptions Friday ahead of coming ashore.
Last Updated : 02 September 2023, 00:34 IST
Last Updated : 02 September 2023, 00:34 IST

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Typhoon Saola made landfall in southern China early Saturday, bringing severe weather to the region as residents in Hong Kong faced strong winds and heavy rain, according to China’s state-run news media.

The typhoon was already causing disruptions Friday ahead of coming ashore.

Storm surge had been occurring around the city of Hong Kong, with seas rising 3 to 4 meters (about 10 to 13 feet) above normal tide levels, forecasters with the Hong Kong Observatory said.

They added that some areas might even reach record levels.

The Joint Typhoon Warning Center, a meteorological service operated by the U.S. Navy, reported that winds were sustained at 115 mph, with higher gusts.

That would make it a major hurricane on the five-tier wind scale used to measure tropical cyclones in the Atlantic.

Authorities reported that 51 people in Hong Kong had gone to hospitals for injuries during the storm and that nearly 500 others had sought refuge at temporary shelters.

In Guangdong, hundreds of thousands of people had been evacuated from “risky areas,” according to state-run media.

Saola made landfall in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong on Saturday, the state-controlled news media reported. The Communist Party secretary of the province, Huang Kunming, urged people there to be “combat ready” for the storm.

As Saola moved through the South China Sea on Friday evening, several major cities in southern China were under the highest level of alert under a four-tier typhoon warning system.

All trains in and out of Guangdong were scheduled to stop running from 8 p.m. until Saturday evening. Public transportation was also scheduled to stop Friday evening in Shenzhen, a coastal megacity in the province.

Water levels there were already higher than normal, and serious flooding could occur in low-lying coastal areas as waters rise rapidly overnight, the observatory said. Hong Kong is well prepared for typhoons, but that does not always protect it from typhoon damage.

Saola isn’t the only storm threatening China this weekend. A second Pacific typhoon, Haikui, was forecast to make landfall in eastern China, south of the city of Wenzhou, on Sunday, the U.S. Embassy in Beijing said in a weather alert. It said southern and eastern China could see damaging winds, heavy rains, flooding, mudslides and travel disruptions through Monday.

Typhoon Saola was generating sustained winds of 130 mph on Friday evening, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, a meteorological service operated by the U.S. Navy. That would make it a Category 4 storm on the five-tier wind scale that is used to measure tropical cyclones in the Atlantic. It was expected to weaken before making landfall.

Typhoon Haikui, named after a sea anemone, had maximum sustained winds of about 90 mph, the center said.

Hurricanes and typhoons are tropical cyclones with sustained winds of at least 74 mph. The term “hurricane” refers to tropical cyclones in the Atlantic basin; “typhoon” refers to ones that develop in the northwestern Pacific and affect Asia.

Dozens of people died in northern and northeastern China during heavy flooding earlier this summer.

Typhoon Saola, named for an elusive species of wild ox that is native to parts of Southeast Asia, has been moving through the region for days. It prompted evacuations in the Philippines and school closings and travel disruptions in Taiwan.

There is consensus among scientists that tropical cyclones are becoming more powerful because of climate change and that the likelihood of major ones is increasing. Climate change is also affecting the amount of rain that storms can produce.

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Published 02 September 2023, 00:34 IST

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