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Hong Kong’s Tropical Cyclone Warning Signals & What They Actually Mean

March 26, 2021

Tropical Cyclone is pretty common during typhoon season (May-early November), with the peak season from July to September, due to the fact that Hong Kong is located in the sub-tropical region. In order to warn the public of any threats brought by the winds, the Hong Kong Observatory designed the Tropical cyclone warning signals. 

Although typhoon comes quite frequent to Hong Kong during the peak season, the one here is weaker than the one you heard in the United States. For example, the strongest typhoon in Hong Kong is classified as Hurricane (Signal 10) with wind speed reaching 118km/h; while the weakest hurricanes in the US is classified as Category One with wind speed reaching 119-153km/h. Therefore, you do not need to worry about your life if you encounter a typhoon during your Hong Kong trip.

Following are the meaning of different cyclone signals in Hong Kong:

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A tropical cyclone is centred within about 800 kilometres (km) of Hong Kong and may affect the territory

What does this mean? Lives go as usual, bring an umbrella.

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Strong wind is blowing or expected to blow generally in Hong Kong near sea level, with a sustained speed of 41-62 kilometres per hour (km/h), and gusts which may exceed 100km/h, and the wind condition is expected to persist.

What does this mean? Lives go as usual, bring an umbrella. Some attractions like Ngong Ping 360 may close earlier, i.e. Signal 3. You are advised to confirm the business hours with the attraction before your departure. Track typhoon here to plan your day.

(https://www.hko.gov.hk/en/index.html)

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Gale or storm force wind is blowing or expected to blow generally in Hong Kong near sea level, with a sustained wind speed of 63-117 km/h from the quarter indicated and gusts which may exceed 180 km/h, and the wind condition is expected to persist.

What does this mean? Most transportations and businesses would be closed. Do not go out or try to go back to your hotel ASAP if you are caught outdoors. Track typhoon here but most likely you should stay indoor for the rest of your day.

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Gale or storm force wind is increasing or expected to increase significantly in strength.

What does this mean? Same as Signal 8

Hurricane force wind is blowing or expected to blow with sustained speed reaching 118 km/h or above and gusts that may exceed 220 km/h.

However; still, for the sake of the public safety, when the tropical cyclone signal 8 or above is hoisted in Hong Kong, public transportation like bus, mini-bus, tram and ferry may be halted, and restaurants and shops may close temporality. Some of the attraction points like Ngong Ping 360 may even close earlier, like under the cyclone signal 3. I would suggest you to contact the company for verification before departing to the place. 

Moreover, the travel insurance usually do not reimburse to any injuries or loss caused by the bad weather. Therefore, you are strongly advised to stay indoors when the tropical cyclone signal 8 or above is issued. To keep yourself updated with the weather information in Hong Kong, download the Hong Kong Observatory app (MyObservatory) or check their website at https://www.hko.gov.hk/en/index.html. Play safe!

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Gigi Chan

This is Gigi, an university student in Hong Kong. I love my home so much that I wish not only Hong Kong to be a better place, but also the others to know her authentic side.

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