The Asian typhoon season has not begun in earnest as yet, but we have already had some spectacular storms roll through Hong Kong.
100 kph winds, torrential rain and spectacular lightning were a feature of this little monster, which took the atmosphere from calm to chaos in a matter of 30 seconds and then completely blew through within 15 minutes. It’s brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts and close friends have all delighted in having a pop at us over the last few weeks, causing minor damage and nuisance; Mummy and Daddy storm have yet to make an appearance and I’m not much looking forward to those events!
A few hours after I had gone to bed, Tropical Storm Vicente morphed suddenly and unexpectedly into Severe Typhoon Vicente. At a distance of about 120km from central Hong Kong its fury was being keenly felt. You may have gathered from yesterday’s photo that I had gone to bed on a boat – and that boat was by now rocking and rolling enough to wake me up. Over the next few hours I could only hold on tight as the boat pitched and bounced like some demented stallion at a rodeo. The wind was howling through the superstructure and the rigging of boats all around me and their mooring lines and fenders squeaked, popped and groaned and they struggled to hold boats in place and prevent them from crashing into either each other, adjacent piers, or jettys. I kept myself updated on the Typhoon’s progress through the wonderful Hong Kong Observatory website (isn’t it amazing that amidst all nature’s fury, not only does the internet continue to function, but we continue to rely on it) and kept my wife, in UK, updated on my plight. I was considering going outside to check and adjust the mooring lines, but with the website reporting measured wind speeds locally of 100+kph and at a maximum of 190+kph within Hong Kong, thought it prudent not to step outside! By this stage the Observatory was issuing the ‘Hurricane level 12 Warning’ – the first time in 13 years that things had been so bad. Warnings were also in place for landslides and flooding. The storm peaked at about 2.30 am when the ‘eye’ of the Typhoon was just under 100km away from central Hong Kong and it was about an hour later that I recorded these images from the Observatory on my iPhone. The first shows the wide area satellite image. The ‘eye’ of the Typhoon is just to the southwest of Hong Kong, but its coverage can be seen extending from Taiwan in the east, The Philippines in the south, and Hainan Island and Vietnam to the west. The second image is centred on Hong Kong and gives a graphic image of the Typhoon’s shape in recording rainfall levels. The final image is the ‘meat’ of the Observatory’s commentary, which was continually updated. Some time between 4 and 5 a.m things calmed down enough that my fatigue from yesterday overcame even nature’s waning efforts and I fell asleep. The boat and I survived; countless trees didn’t.