More No.10 typhoon signal hoistings due to climate change: SMG

2023-09-04 03:37     BY Yuki Lei    Comment:0

In view of the fact that climate change leads to “more frequent extremely severe weather”, the frequency of issuing the No. 10 typhoon signal, the highest of the city’s five-level tropical cyclone warning system, has increased “significantly” in recent years, according to a statement by the Meteorological and Geophysical Bureau (SMG).

The local observatory issued the No.10 signal for Super Typhoon “Saola” at 1 a.m. on Saturday, the first No.10 typhoon signal in three years, following the passage of Super Typhoon “Hato” in 2017, “Mangkhut” in 2018 and Severe Tropical “Higos” in 2020.

In comparison to just four No.10 typhoon signals issued in 49 years from 1968 to 2016, last week’s hoisting of the No.10 signal was the fourth time the highest typhoon warning signal was issued in just seven years, Saturday’s statement noted.

After circling in the Northwest Pacific Ocean, Saola, which had a firm structure with a relatively small circulation, moved into the South China Sea as a super typhoon and approached the coast of Guangdong, according to the statement, which pointed out that Saola ended up passing at a distance of about 20-30 kilometres south of Macau, with its strongest winds recorded in some areas reaching level 11 (indicating a violent storm – 103-117 km/h) on the “Beaufort scale” and maximum gusts up to level 12 (indicating a hurricane – equal or higher than 118 km/h).

The Beauford wind force scale ranges from zero (calm) to 12 (hurricane).

The No.10 signal was in force between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m. on Saturday.

The weather station lowered the No.8 signal and replaced it with the No.3 signal at 3 p.m. on Saturday, which was then cancelled at midnight on that day.

During the super typhoon, the observatory had successively issued the No.9 signal at 11 p.m. on Friday and a Red storm surge warning at 7 p.m. on Friday, the fourth-highest of a five-level warning system, indicating that the observatory expected floods to reach between 1.5 and 2.5 metres.

Before and during the hoisting of the No.8 signal at 2 p.m. on Friday, slight flooding occurred in the southern area of Inner Harbour, the SMG statement said, adding that as Saola weakened faster than expected, its speed of movement increased, the floods above road level resulting from the storm surge were lower than expected, with the floods’ peak out of alignment with the astronomical tide.

The strong band of rain near the centre of Saola also brought a long period of rain and wind to Macau, with rainfall of 50 – 70 millimetres recorded in several local neighbourhoods, the statement added.

Saola spares Macau major damage

Meanwhile, according to a statement by the Civil Protection Operations Centre (COPC) on Saturday, 247 people had sought refuge during the typhoon in the government’s 17 emergency reception shelters and four emergency evacuation gathering points, of whom 106 were locals, 71 were mainlanders, four were Hongkongers and 66 were visitors from elsewhere.

Secretary for Security Wong Sio Chak, who oversaw the civil protection measures during the typhoon, said in the statement that Saola’s impact “was much less than expected.” He praised Macau’s civil protection authorities for their “efficient” prevention of and response to the threat posed by the typhoon to residents’ lives and property.

Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng paid an inspection visit to the COPC after the No.8 signal had been hoisted.

The COPC statement said that 3,111 residents in low-lying areas were urged to evacuate to safe locations when the Orange storm surge warning took effect at 2 p.m. on Friday. Most, however, chose to stay at home.

The COPC statement noted that the Health Bureau (SSM) and the private Kiang Wu Hospital had received six patients with typhoon-related injuries, with one serious who had sustained a fracture, one moderate and four minor injuries recorded during the typhoon. The COPC recorded 188 minor incidents, mainly involving fallen objects.

In response to the issuing of the higher than No.8 signal, i.e., first the No.9 signal and finally the No.10 signal, the local government ordered on Friday night the temporary closure of the city’s 30 casinos, which shut their doors at 11 p.m. and reopened at 8 a.m. the next day. The local government also ordered the temporary closure of all mainland border checkpoints on that day, which gradually reopened on Saturday.

Sai Van Bridge’s lower enclosed deck was closed temporarily to vehicular traffic when the No.9 and No.10 signals were hoisted on Friday night, which was then reopened to cars when the signals were replaced by the No.8 signal.

When the No.8 signal was lowered to the No.3 signal at 3 p.m. on Saturday, public bus and light rail transit (LRT) services resumed operation. The three Macau-Taipa bridges were opened to vehicular traffic with the exception of the enclosed lower deck of Sai Van Bridge which remained close to car traffic.

Meanwhile, the Municipal Affairs Bureau (IAM) said in a statement yesterday that more than 280 roadside trees were blown over by the typhoon, and about 600 had broken branches to “varying degrees” lying on pavements and roads in various neighbourhoods, due to the impact brought about by Saola.

The statement noted that a total of over 1,000 tonnes of domestic waste was collected at dawn yesterday morning, an increase of about 40 percent over normal days.

In a separate statement released yesterday afternoon, the Municipal Affairs Bureau said that due to the impact of Saola, green and leisure facilities such as public parks, walkways and cycle tracks have been damaged to various extents so that they have been temporarily closed to the public, adding that more than 80 percent of the public parks and sitting-out areas will be fully or partially reopen to the public today.

In addition, according to the statement, due to the unfinished clearing of fallen trees and branches at the Coloane Municipal Kennel, the facility will be closed to the public today.

The statement underlined that notices have been put up at the entrances of parks, walkways and cycle tracks, which will reopen gradually after completion of inspections and necessary risk removal work.

Facilities that will reopen from today include Mong Ha Hill Municipal Park, Flora Garden, Reservatório Park, Garden of Flower City in Taipa, Marginal da Areia Preta Park, Montanha Russa Park and Seac Pai Van Urban Park, as well as sitting-out areas in Estrada Marginal do Hipódromo, Bacia Norte do Patane, Camoes Garden, Rua Quatro do Bairro Iao Hon, and near Tamagnini Barbosa Building.

Meanwhile, the Cultural Affairs Bureau (IC) said in a statement yesterday that the overall post-typhoon condition of the city’s heritage buildings has been confirmed to be “basically intact”, with only some of the buildings found to have suffered slight damage to the roof.

SMG to consider issue tropical cyclone warning signal today

Meanwhile, the local observatory said on its website yesterday, considering that tropical cyclone “Haikui” was moving across Taiwan and expected to move towards the east coast of Fujian and then to Guangdong after entering the South China Sea today but gradually weaken afterwards, it would closely monitor its track and intensity changes and consider issuing a tropical cyclone warning signal today.

Normally, this would be the standby signal No.1.

Due to Haikui’s associated downdraft, the weather was expected to be “very hot” today and tomorrow, the observatory said.

Moreover, the Hong Kong Observatory said yesterday that as “Tropical Cyclone Haikui has entered the Taiwan Strait”, and it would issue the standby signal No.1 this morning.

Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng (centre, front), flanked by Secretary for Security Wong Sio Chak (centre, behind) and senior Macau Public Security Forces (FSM) officers (right), attends an update on the typhoon situation by a civil protection official during his inspection visit to the Civil Protection Operations Centre (COPC) in Pac On in Taipa after the No.8 signal had been hoisted on Friday. – Photo: GCS

These photos taken on Friday and Saturday show the impact of Super Typhoon “Saola” on Macau.
– Photos: MPDG

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