Typhoon Saola Hits Southern China; Nearly 900,000 Evacuated for Safety Measures

by Andrew Wright
Typhoon Saola

In the pre-dawn hours of Saturday, Typhoon Saola made landfall in southern China, prompting the evacuation of almost 900,000 individuals. Business activities, transportation, and educational institutions were largely suspended in Hong Kong and other areas of coastal southern China in anticipation of the storm.

According to the Meteorological Bureau of Guangdong province, the severe weather system moved into a peripheral district of Zhuhai city, situated south of Hong Kong, at 3:30 a.m. The typhoon was projected to progress in a southwesterly direction along the coast of Guangdong at a velocity of approximately 17 kilometers per hour (10 miles per hour), before weakening and venturing back out to sea.

On the preceding Friday, 780,000 residents of Guangdong and another 100,000 in the neighboring Fujian province were relocated from vulnerable areas. Additionally, over 80,000 fishing boats returned to harbor. Multiple cities witnessed school year delays and employees largely remained homebound.

Rail services entering and departing from Guangdong province were suspended from Friday evening until Saturday evening, according to China’s state-run CCTV.

The Hong Kong Observatory had raised a No. 10 hurricane warning, the maximum under the city’s meteorological alert system. It was the first such warning since Super Typhoon Mangkhut struck Hong Kong in 2018. The observatory stated that Typhoon Saola, boasting maximum sustained winds of 195 kilometers (121 miles) per hour, came within approximately 30 kilometers (19 miles) of Hong Kong’s Tsim Sha Tsui shopping district at its closest point, around 11 p.m. on Friday. By Saturday morning, the maximum wind speeds had decreased to 145 kilometers (90 miles) per hour.

The agency also cautioned against significant flooding in coastal regions, drawing parallels to water levels observed during the impact of Mangkhut, which had resulted in fallen trees and scaffolding being ripped from buildings.

In recent times, China has faced some of its most severe rains and catastrophic flooding in years, causing loss of life across various regions, including peripheral mountainous areas of the capital, Beijing.

With Typhoon Saola closing in on Hong Kong, nearly 400 individuals took shelter in provisional facilities, and public transportation services were suspended. Residents in low-lying regions fortified their homes with sandbags in an attempt to avert flooding.

The storm felled numerous trees and led to seven people requiring medical attention at public hospitals. All educational institutions remained closed on Saturday.

Essential workers, including security guard Shirley Ng, reported for duty on Friday. Ng mentioned that people were accumulating food supplies to prepare for the impending storm. “My only wish is that the typhoon won’t result in loss of life,” she stated.

Meteorological authorities in Macao, a neighboring gambling hub, also sounded alarms about potential flooding, anticipating water levels could surge to 1.5 meters (5 feet) in low-lying zones by Saturday morning. The bridge connecting Hong Kong, Macao, and Zhuhai city was closed in the early afternoon, and casino activities were ceased by directive from Macao’s leader Ho Iat Seng.

Simultaneously, another storm, Haikui, was gradually advancing towards eastern China. Under the influence of both Saola and Haikui, Guangdong, Fujian, and Zhejiang provinces were braced for heavy rainfall and robust winds, according to the meteorological administration.

Domestic flights were extensively cancelled, affecting air connectivity to both Hong Kong and Macao.

In spite of the dual typhoons, China’s military continued operations aimed at intimidating Taiwan on Friday night and early Saturday. Taiwan’s Defense Ministry revealed that it had detected six Chinese military aircraft and three naval vessels in the vicinity of Taiwan in the 24-hour period leading up to Saturday morning. However, there were no signs of these units crossing the median line in the Taiwan Strait or entering Taiwan’s air defense identification zone.

Earlier in the week, Typhoon Saola had narrowly bypassed Taiwan to the south, its outer bands inundating the southern cities of the island with heavy rainfall. The storm had previously impacted the Philippines, causing flooding and displacing tens of thousands in the northern part of the archipelago.

Contributions to this report were made by Big Big News writer Kanis Leung and video journalist Alice Fung.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Typhoon Saola

What areas were most affected by Typhoon Saola?

The most affected areas were southern China, specifically Guangdong province, and the outlying district of the city of Zhuhai. Hong Kong was also significantly impacted, as were parts of Fujian province.

How many people were evacuated due to Typhoon Saola?

Nearly 900,000 individuals were evacuated for safety measures. Of these, 780,000 were from Guangdong province and 100,000 were from the neighboring Fujian province.

What precautionary measures were taken in Hong Kong?

Hong Kong suspended most business activities, transportation, and educational institutions. The Hong Kong Observatory issued a No. 10 hurricane warning, the highest level of weather alert in the city. Nearly 400 individuals sought refuge in provisional shelters.

Was the stock market affected by the typhoon?

Yes, trading on Hong Kong’s stock market was suspended on Friday due to the severe weather conditions.

Were there any casualties or injuries reported?

As of the last update, seven people were injured and required medical attention at public hospitals in the affected areas.

How did the typhoon impact transportation?

Rail services in and out of Guangdong province were suspended from Friday evening to Saturday evening. Additionally, about 460 flights were canceled at the Hong Kong airport, and ferry and bus services were halted.

What were the typhoon’s maximum sustained wind speeds?

The maximum sustained winds of Typhoon Saola were recorded at 195 kilometers (121 miles) per hour. By Saturday morning, these had decreased to 145 kilometers (90 miles) per hour.

Were there other weather phenomena in the region during this time?

Yes, another storm named Haikui was gradually moving toward eastern China. The meteorological administration warned that parts of Guangdong, Fujian, and Zhejiang provinces would experience heavy rains and strong winds due to the influence of both Saola and Haikui.

Did the typhoon have any geopolitical implications?

Despite the severe weather conditions, China’s military conducted operations aimed at intimidating Taiwan. Taiwan’s Defense Ministry detected six Chinese military aircraft and three naval vessels in the vicinity during the storm.

How did residents prepare for the storm?

Residents fortified their homes with sandbags in low-lying areas to prevent flooding. Essential workers, like security guards, reported for duty, and people stockpiled food supplies in anticipation of the storm’s impact.

More about Typhoon Saola

  • Typhoon Saola: Evacuation and Impact
  • Guangdong Province Meteorological Bureau Weather Updates
  • Hong Kong Observatory Hurricane Warning System

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Melissa99 September 2, 2023 - 7:19 am

Cant believe they’re still doing military ops with a typhoon going on. seriously, what are they thinkin?

SophiaM September 2, 2023 - 7:56 am

Hoping everyone is OK. Weather’s been really crazy lately.

GeoPolWatcher September 2, 2023 - 4:50 pm

Military actions in the middle of a natural disaster? Something’s off here.

TravelBug September 2, 2023 - 7:29 pm

Was supposed to fly to Hong Kong this weekend. Flights got cancelled. This is insane.

Financier September 2, 2023 - 7:31 pm

Stock market’s closed, and yet life goes on. Makes you think about what’s really important.

LocalResident September 2, 2023 - 8:00 pm

School’s out but not in a good way. My kids are going stir crazy at home.

EnviroGuy September 2, 2023 - 10:28 pm

another typhoon, more flooding, when will it end? climate change is no joke people.

SafetyFirst September 3, 2023 - 12:31 am

Everyone, pls follow the guidelines from authorities. This is not a drill.

CynicalSam September 3, 2023 - 12:41 am

900k evacuated and still business as usual for the military. Nice priorities there.

JohnDoe September 3, 2023 - 12:46 am

Wow, that’s a lot of people evacuated. Stay safe everyone.


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