A very strong typhoon continues to move west over the Pacific Ocean and if its path stays unchanged, Hong Kong may take a direct hit over the weekend, the Hong Kong Observatory warns.
In a rare early alert, the weather forecasting agency urged the public to brace for strong winds and heavy rains that will be brought by Typhoon Mangkhut, warning that there is a 40 to 50 percent chance the city will experience a direct impact, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported.
Categorized as a super typhoon, Mangkhut is forecast to arrive within about 800 kilometers of Hong Kong on Saturday prior to its closest approach the next day.
It is expected to keep intensifying in the coming days and possibly pack a maximum sustained wind near the typhoon center of 260 kilometers per hour by Friday.
The National Meteorological Center of China estimated it to be stronger than Typhoon Jebi, which lashed western Japan and paralyzed Kansai International Airport in the Osaka Bay a week ago. Jebi was the strongest typhoon to hit Japan in 25 years.
The Observatory said Mangkhut’s track is similar to those seen in Typhoon Wanda in 1962, Typhoon Ellen in 1983 and Typhoon Hato in 2017, all of which had prompted the Hurricane Signal No. 10, the highest typhoon signal in Hong Kong, to be issued.
Choy Chun-wing, a scientific officer at the Observatory, said raising the top typhoon signal depends on whether Mangkhut will pass through the Luzon Strait between Taiwan and the Philippines.
If it does, then it will have no contact with land and likely become stronger, as in the cases of Typhoon Wanda and Typhoon Hato, Choy said, adding that the chance of this happening is between 40 and 50 percent.
Seeing that Mangkhut will likely cause flight delays and cancellations over the weekend, Cathay Pacific Airways announced on Tuesday that rebooking and rerouting charges will be waived for all tickets issued worldwide (irrespective of fare type) on or before Sept. 11 for travel with a Cathay Pacific/Cathay Dragon confirmed booking, arriving to and departing from Hong Kong between Sept. 16 and 17.
The airline also urged all of its customers to check flight status before proceeding to the airport.
Meanwhile, tropical storm Barijat is expected to move more than 100 kilometers south of Hong Kong on Wednesday afternoon.
Barijat will move across the northern South China Sea in the general direction of the coast of western Guangdong on Wednesday and Thursday.
The Observatory issued the Strong Wind Signal, No. 3 at 12:20 p.m. on Wednesday.
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