Environment Field Note
Title: Typhoon Season in Hong Kong
Abstract: Get to know what a typhoon feels like in Hong Kong!
Introduction – How are people connected to the environment?
During the summer in Hong Kong, typhoons are very frequent. I was unaware of such weather conditions until I experienced my first typhoon! Because the weather is now changing from spring to summer, it is getting hotter, more humid, and violent thunderstorms are plenty.
What makes this environment special or different?
A typhoon is a tropical cyclone typically northwest of the Pacific Ocean. Typhoons originate over warm seas and can have winds over 150 miles per hour. During the summer, Hong Kong is affected by this weather because of its geographical location on the Pacific Ocean (coordinates 22.3000° N, 114.1667° E). It is about 1,552 miles away from the equator, which is why the waters are warm. Typhoons start off as tropical thunderstorms and pull in moisture from the oceans. The moisture of the ocean and heat of the air keeps the typhoon going and growing. A typhoon is formed when hot air and warm water are pushed up in a circular motion.
What parts of this environment help people to live here?
The Hong Kong Observatory regulates the weather, rainfall, and typhoons in Hong Kong. The public becomes very reliant on the government especially during typhoon season. The Hong Kong Observatory issues a warning signal if a typhoon cyclone is centered within 800 kilometers of Hong Kong. The signals are based on a number ranking system T1, T8, T9, and T10 each according to the intensity of the typhoon. Each level follows a legend that explains how big the typhoon is and people of Hong Kong can track the status online and in the news. For example, when a T-3 sign is warned, all government agencies, schools, and private companies will close and let people go home to avoid the potential dangers coming their way. The Hong Kong Observatory states that usually a T-10 warning for a direct hit of a typhoon is unlikely.
Generally, typhoon season lasts for a few months during the summer and people can go about their day with nothing too serious to worry about during typhoon season. The warning system is in place just in case nature surprises Hong Kong with a dangerous typhoon. The government wants to make sure their people are safe and that they take safety precautions to protect the community from natural disasters.
What challenges do people face living in this environment?
When rainstorm and typhoon warnings become very serious, people will close their shops and stay at home till the storm goes away. Schools and work offices will close or let people go home early if the climate warning system triggers a necessary evacuation. The massive rainfall and wind during a typhoon can prevent people from going outside all day.
When I experienced my first typhoon, the wind and rain was so powerful I thought I was going to be blown away! I decided to take a 30-minute walk home from school one day because the weather was on the cooler side. What I didn’t know was that a T-8 level typhoon was on its way. The weather changed in the blink of an eye as the clouds hovered over me. Soon, a flash flood of rain poured and I was soaked in water. Luckily, I was almost home and managed to get home safely. A metal sign that was near my building had blown away and the wind was blowing the big trees back and forth. I was so glad to be back in my room in shelter. It is always important to check the weekly weather and The Hong Kong Observatory to see potential typhoon risks during the week. It is a very reliable source to use.
How have people been adapting to this environment?
In Hong Kong, there is a warning system that lets the public know the intensity of an upcoming storm. It is broadcasted on television, online, and most buildings will have signs with warnings when storm season comes along. The warning ranges from T1, T-3, T8, T9, T10 and this system help people go about their day or prepare for the worst if a typhoon is directly aimed at Hong Kong. Before the invention of the internet, typhoon warning symbols consisted of drums, balls, and cones that were hoisted at various places along the harbor. These symbols helped local people know which way the wind was blowing and how close the typhoon was headed their way. The transformation of technology over the past hundred years have helped people deal with this weather condition easier and conveniently without having to go outside and see where or how the wind is blowing.