Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Super Typhoon Catfish

As The Strongest Typhoon in the History of Hong Hong (local newspaper headline) approaches, now is an apt time to explain Hong Kong's curious Typhoon warning system.

This evening, as I returned home, the porter of my building had blu-tacked the customary warning next to the lift.

No, my porter does not have an imaginative vocabulary, nor is he persuaded that he is the captain of the boat. In fact nothing is amiss here: in Hong Kong, weather warnings are not issued or announced, they are hoisted. Perhaps there is a little man at the Observatory with a flagpole and a pulley mechanism.

Typhoon Megi, meaning 'catfish' is a 'super typhoon', the strongest category of storm, with wind speeds of up to 185km. As it approaches, the Observatory will issue further signals. What this means is that most urbanites will be keenly watching for the signal to change to 3, and then 8, at which point we are all allowed to leave the office (or not turn up, depending on the time of day). The signal can go up to 10 for very strong winds. (Tape up your windows). Ironically, Hong Kong's strongest every typhoon looks set to land on Saturday. Damn!

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