Typhoon "Hato" turns deadly as it makes landfall in SE China's Guangdong

Typhoon

Typhoon "Hato" made landfall in southeast China's Guangdong Province near 05:00 UTC (11:00 local time) on Wednesday, August 23, 2017, with wind speeds near 185 km/h (115 mph). This made Hato a Category 3 hurricane equivalent on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale and the worst storm to hit the region in five years. Although thousands have been evacuated, at least 3 people have been killed, 2 are missing and more than 30 injured, as of 12:00 UTC.

Hato's center passed right over southern Hong Kong, Macau and landed in the Pearl river delta city of Zhuhai at a time when Guangdong coast was busy with tourists and fish farm workers.

According to Hong Kong's South China Morning Post (SCMP), Hato made landfall when the storm force was at its height, shattering windows on skyscrapers, flooding low-lying areas and blowing over public bins. 

The Hong Kong Observatory (HKO) issued No. 10 Hurricane Signal at 09:10 local time today, warning residents that hurricane force wind is expected or blowing.

This was the first No. 10 warning issued since Typhoon "Vincente" in July 2012, and the 15th since 1946. One for every 72 storms, according to the HKO. 

The cyclone brought large-scale power cuts to the gambling hub of Macao for 2 hours, where at least three people were killed. There was severe flooding on the streets, with some cars almost completely submerged, and the water supply was affected in some districts. The three men who died included a 45-year-old Chinese tourist who was hit by a heavy truck, according to a government statement. 

In Hong Kong, 450 flights were canceled, financial markets suspended and schools closed. The cyclone uprooted nearly 200 trees and triggered large swells and big waves, causing serious flooding in low-lying areas. At least 34 people were injured across the city, but there were no casualties, according to Reuters.

According to forecasts by the HKO, at around 12:00 local time, the sea level on the western coast of Lantau was set to reach a level 3.9 m (12.8 feet) above normal and flooding could be 'waist deep' in low-lying areas.

Residents were desperately trying to stop water entering their homes as the tide rose. Tai O Market Street, often filled with tourists, was turned into a shallow river. Traffic cones, bags of rubbish and debris were seen floating along it, SCMP reported.

"The flooding intensified within just half an hour between 10:00 and 10:30," resident Eddie Tse said. "It’s getting worse. The wind is so strong I can’t even leave my home to observe the scene."

In Guangdong Province, authorities canceled numerous flights and trains, evacuated thousands of residents and ordered fishing vessels back to port. 

According to the JTWC, the center of Typhoon "Hato" was located approximately 133 km (83 miles) west of Hong Kong at 09:00 UTC, and has tracked WNW at 30 km/h (18.4 mph) over the past six hours. The system intensified to a peak of 185 km/h (115 mph) at 03:00 UTC, just before landfall.

Typhoon Hato forecast track JTWC August 23, 2017

Typhoon "Hato" forecast track by JTWC at 09:00 UTC on August 23, 2017

Currently, animated multispectral and radar imagery indicate the system has weakened due to land interaction with the initial intensity assessed at 157 km/h (98 mph).

Hato is expected to continue tracking WNW and dissipate over the next 36 hours as it tracks over rough mountainous terrain (elevation 1 200 - 1 830 m (4 000 - 6 000 feet)).

Update:

22:59 UTC

At least six people have been killed and two are still missing. AFP reported five of the fatalities were in Macau, while a sixth person died in Hong Kong.

Featured image: Typhoon "Hato" at 10:20 UTC on August 23, 2017. Credit: JMA/Himawari-8

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