HONG KONG – Typhoon Saola slightly weakened Saturday (Hong Kong time) as it gradually moved away from Hong Kong, where it caused at least 55 injuries, according to government officials. However, the storm's destructive impacts are still affecting the territory.
According to the Hong Kong Observatory, the No. 10 hurricane signal – the highest warning level from the agency – will continue to be in effect for a while. This is the first time the No. 10 warning has been issued since Super Typhoon Mangkhut struck Hong Kong in 2018.
"Members of the public should stay on high alert," the agency said early Saturday morning. "You are advised to stay where you are if protected and be prepared for destructive winds of Saola."
Saola's winds reached a maximum of 121 mph and came closest to Hong Kong's financial hub and the Tsim Sha Tsui shopping district about 11 p.m. Friday as the storm's eyewall posed a significant threat to the territory.
The storm caused a surge in water several feet high around Hong Kong's coastal areas, local meteorologists said. Serious flooding was also warned in low-lying coastal areas such as Shatin, Tai Po, Sha Tau Kok and Sai Kung.
Wind gusts of 70 mph were reported early Saturday at Hong Kong International Airport, with higher gusts reaching 90-100 mph along Ngong Ping, Cheung Chau Beach and Green Island.
It is predicted that Saola will pass near the Pearl River Estuary on Saturday, bringing with it strong winds, heavy rain and storm surge. Even though Saola will weaken and leave the region, there may still be occasional showers along the southern coast of China early next week because of a broad low-pressure trough, as stated by the observatory.
Additionally, Tropical Cyclone Haikui will head toward Taiwan and move closer to the coasts of Fujian and eastern Guangdong by midweek next week.
Severe flooding hit the city of Lufeng, located in China's southeastern Guangdong province, on Friday due to Saola. The storm slowly moved northwest over the South China Sea. The CMA shared footage revealing a submerged road and flooded businesses.
Earlier in the week, Hong Kong grounded flights and temporarily closed the stock market. Provinces along the coast postponed the start of the new school semester, according to the Xinhua News Agency. Fishing boats were ordered back to port, ferry and rail services were canceled. All vulnerable groups in fishing farms across the provinces are under evacuation orders, according to state television.