Hong Kong saw the No. 8 storm warning signal raised for most of the day on Sunday as Typhoon Khanun passed to the south of the city, bringing strong winds and rain but causing little damage, except for flight and other public transport disruptions.
The Observatory issued the No. 8 Northeast Gale signal at 8:40 a.m. before lowering it to No. 3 at 7:20 p.m. It was further lowered to No. 1 at 10:40 p.m.
So far there have been five typhoons that prompted No. 8 storm warning this year, including, Merbok, Roke, Hato, Pakhar and Khanun, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports. The rare No. 10 signal was raised for Hato in August.
That ties with the record set in 1964 and repeated in 1999, when five No. 8 signals were also issued. Those were La Niña years, when extreme weather conditions were expected, but this year is not.
Dr. Lee Tsz-cheung, a senior scientific officer at the Observatory, said the fact that temperatures in northwest Pacific Ocean and northern South China Sea were higher than normal between July and early October this year might have provided more favorable conditions for the formation of tropical storms.
In addition, the North Pacific subtropical high, a high-pressure system, tends to guide some of them to enter the South China Sea or the proximity of Hong Kong, Lee said.
While Khanun battered Hainan province on Monday morning, the Hong Kong International Airport was still be scrambling to deal with a number of delayed flights and stranded passengers during the day.
A total 479 flights were delayed and 73 canceled as of 8:00 p.m. Sunday.
The Airport Authority expected operations of the airport to remain affected by unstable weather conditions on Monday, saying it will be forced to reschedule flights as a result and calling on passengers to confirm their flights with the airline companies before heading to the airport.
Meanwhile, many people, especially those who had to catch their flights, complained about serious traffic jams on the Lantau Link after the major roadway that links the airport to the urban areas was partly closed on Sunday morning due to Typhoon Khanun.
Democratic Party lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting, the vice chairman of the Legislative Council’s transport committee, criticized the “flawed” planning of the transport system to the airport, saying the heavy congestion showed that the lower deck of the link and the MTR Corp’s Airport Express were insufficient to meet the demand on Sunday.
Secretary for Transport and Housing Frank Chan Fan said traffic controls had to be temporarily implemented at the link, noting that strong winds had prompted the diversion of vehicles to the lower deck of the Tsing Ma Bridge.
He asked for public understanding, stressing that the measures were taken to ensure the safety of all vehicles passing through the bridge.
The Transport Department has denied the traffic diversion had something to with the new two-way toll collection system that was implemented in August to prepare for the expected opening of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge by the end of the year, lawmaker Chan Han-pan of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong said.
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