Hong Kong went into lockdown today after Typhoon Hato tore through the city with hurricane-force winds and heavy rain. Pictures and videos of floods and fallen trees have made their way onto social media to show dramatic scenes from the worst storm in five years.
The Hong Kong Observatory (HKO) hoisted the No. 8 Gale Signal at 5:20am, which was upgraded to the rare No. 9 Increasing Gale or Storm Signal at 8:10am, and bumped to the highest storm signal available, No. 10 Hurricane Signal, at 9:10am. The city has not seen a T10 since 2012, when Typhoon Vicente struck.
Coastal areas were hit badly by the storm, with severe sea water flooding reported in Siu Sai Wan, Aberdeen and Kennedy Town. In Heng Fa Chuen, waves as high as five meters were seen hitting the promenade, causing knee-high floods in the area.
The housing estate was flooded particularly badly as it is one of the lowest points of Hong Kong Island. Flooding in its underground car park reportedly reached the ceiling, while the curb of the promenade was reportedly cracked by crashing waves.
Floods were also reported in the Lantau fishing village of Tai O, the fishing village of Lei Yue Mun, and parts of Tai Po and Sai Kung. Firefighters and police were sent to save people who were trapped in their homes and bring them to safety.
Travelers were stranded at the airport as a total of 450 flights were canceled, according to the Airport Authority. Even those who had landed in Hong Kong safely in the morning were unable to leave the airport, as the Airport Express was suspended for most of the day.
In Hung Hom, a suspended working platform was filmed swinging wildly in the wind and smashing into the windows of four luxury apartments.
In Central, the windows at Hang Seng Bank HQ suffered a similar fate, with full panes of glass seen falling from the skyscraper from the sheer force of the wind, and shattering on Connaught Road Central.
In Sai Kung, one person braved the floods by kayaking through a partially submerged parking lot:
While most shops were closed for the majority of the working day, some Hongkongers managed to get their hands on some uber-fresh seafood when it got washed ashore. There was the ever-prized abalone:
And even a sea urchin:
That isn’t all that washed on shore, however. Heng Fa Chuen, Nim Shue Wan, and Mui Wo were all hit by waves of marine rubbish, including the huge lumps of palm oil which have been plaguing Hong Kong’s beaches for the past few weeks.
By 1:45pm, the Observatory said Hato had made landfall over Zhuhai and was weakening as it gradually moved away from Hong Kong. Police told AFP that one 83-year-old man died after he fell into the sea, while over 120 people were injured. According to the government, 466 fallen trees, four floods, and one mudslide were reported by 3:30pm.
At 2:10pm, the T10 signal was downgraded to a T8, which was replaced by a T3 three hours later. The No. 1 Standby signal was in force from 6:20pm until 8:40pm, when it was lowered.