Hong Kong is in the path of typhoons, aka tropical cyclones. Every year a few would
bring some rain - sometimes just that, sometimes also the high
winds and an extra holiday.
Typhoon is another name for hurricane. They are defined as tropical
cyclones with sustained wind speed of at least 118 km/hr (i.e.
73 mph). In 1962, typhoon Wanda had mean winds of 133km/h (82.5
mph) and gusts of 259 km/h (160.5 mph) in the harbour,
and record-setting gusts of 284 km/h (176 mph) at Tate's Cairn.
When a typhoon is within 800 Km (~500 miles) of Hong Kong, the
number 1 typhoon signal is hoisted, just as a word of caution.
Then if it gets closer, it is bumped up to number 3. At this point
everybody wants it to go higher because it means no school and
getting out of work! But of course those living in flood-prone
areas and shakey housing think otherwise.
The next typhoon signal after 3 is number 8. Nowadays the Observatory
actually gives an advance warning, telling people two hours in
advance that the number 8 will take effect - in order to allow
people to make preparations to go home and to pick up kids from
school. For some it also lets them call up a few friends to
to celebrate the windfall holiday with a mahjong
When number 8 hits, most schools and offices close. So do many stores, except convenient stories, some supermarkets, and some gas stations. The trains, ferries, buses,
etc., will begin to suspend service depending on the conditions
- understandably, ferries are always the first to go - or rather,
But movie theatres tend to stay open and capture the windfall audience. Watching a movie seems a popular way to celebrate an extra day off.
Large bamboo scaffoldings around buildings also like to fold and block up streets to celebrate signal number 8.
a typhoon gets within 100 km (62 miles) or so of Hong Kong, it
is considered a direct hit and the ultimate number 10 goes up.
It means "stay off the streets" unless you want to
play "dodge neon signs". (All kinds of stuff not securely
tied down enough will get blown off, flying around, looking for
a victim!) But then there are those who love to see the wind and
waves at the waterfront.
And some may even go surfing.
The typhoon season for Hong Kong is from around July to September.
If you happen to visit Hong Kong during a typhoon, just pray that
it is not more than a 3! And a number 10 will be quite a damper
because most of the stores will be closed. If you are staying
in a harbor-view
hotel room during a number 10 or even an 8, stay away from
(For more info, check the Hong Kong Observatory's
If you are a tourist stuck in Hong Kong during a typhoon, here is a
list of suggestions on what to do.