As if we need any reminder that Southeast Asia is in the middle of monsoon season, one massive meteorological clue-by-four has been hammering at the area in the past few days. After buidlig up strength with unprecedented speed off the West Philippine Sea, Typhoon Hato made landfall at the Chinese mainland this Wednesday. The storm delivered heavy rains and powerful winds that buffeted the two Special Administrative Regions at the mouth of the Pearl River, before moving on further inland along the span of southern China. Several deaths have already been reported by news agencies covering the typhoon.
As CNN tells it, Hong Kong was the first area that Hato struck upon waking landfall in China last Wednesday, August 23. Before that the storm had achieved a phenomenal growth in power. Earlier in the weak it had been only a run of the mill tropical storm. But from August 21 to 22 it suddenly jumped to “severe” typhoon category, with wind speed being clocked at 175 km/h. The Hong Kong Observatory would issue Signals 9 to 10 – requiring people to remain indoors – as Hato bore down on the world-famous harbor that Wednesday.
While some daredevil Hong Kongers tried to make spectacles of themselves on social media by trying to stand as long as they can against the waves and the winds, one can make no mistake that Typhoon Hato would do some damage. Due to making landfall in the middle of high tide, waters swept up to flood the streets in some areas. Trees planted along the coasts were also uprooted, about 700 of which were reported. Around 100 people were also logged as seeking medical treatment during and after the passing of the typhoon, but they could count themselves fortunate that no deaths occurred in Hong Kong itself.
It was another story in Macau to the west. Time reports that there were eight fatalities in the former Portuguese colony-turned-gaming mecca. Three of the deaths were a man who was killed in a fall, another who was hit by a car and a third who was crushed by a collapsing wall. Floodwaters submerged cars in the streets of Macau while ferocious winds smashed shop windows. Power was also cut and would not return to homes and businesses until well into Thursday, August 26.
Hato is estimated to be the worst typhoon to hit that area in 18 years. The number of residents in Hong Kong, Macau and China affected by it is reported to run into 66 million, one million people over the population of France, to put the scale into perspective. Financial losses have been calculated to reach up to $1 billion on account of stock trading interruptions and flight cancellations over the week.
Photo courtesy of Business Insider