The Observatory raised No. 8 Northeast Gale or Storm Signal at 5:20 p.m. on Monday as Tropical Cyclone Merbok moved closer towards the coast of Guangdong.
The storm is expected to make landfall at around midnight, within 50 kilometers of the territory, the Observatory said.
At 5 p.m., Merbok was estimated to be about 90 kilometers south-southeast of Hong Kong and was forecast to move north-northwest at about 20 kilometers per hour, public broadcaster RTHK reported.
Earlier, the Education Bureau announced that all schools had been closed, while the Social Welfare Department said it had closed all child care centers, after-school classes, elderly services centers and day rehabilitation units.
Many offices had also allowed their employees to go home early as transport services were expected to be disrupted.
The MTR Corporation said it was boosting train services. But it said passengers should allow extra time for their journeys and crowd control measures may be put in place.
First Ferry said the last sailings of its inter-island services, between places such as Cheung Chau and Mui Wo, were being brought forward. It also said rough conditions may force it to cancel all services in the event of a Typhoon Signal No.8 being issued.
Cathay Pacific warned passengers to expect flight delays, diversions and cancellations from Monday afternoon. It has already announced a number of cancellations on both Monday and Tuesday, with flights to the mainland, Taiwan and the Philippines affected.
China Airlines said many of its flights from Hong Kong to Taipei, Kaohsiung and Tainan have been canceled due to the strong winds, while Hong Kong Airlines has also suspended a number of flights between Hong Kong and Shanghai.
The strong wind signal No. 3 had been in place since 10:40 a.m. as the first storm for this year approached.
In the past few hours, local winds were strengthening with occasional gales beginning to affect the offshore areas.
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