HONG KONG: Hong Kong braced itself for tropical cyclone Wipha on Wednesday (Jul 31) as the city's observatory issued a No 8 storm signal.
This signal indicates higher wind speeds from 63kmh to 117kmh, and gusts that may exceed 180kmh. In addition to the strong wind signal, the Hong Kong Observatory also issued a thunderstorm warning, which was in force until about 3pm on Wednesday.
The observatory warned that the heavy rain may bring about flash floods.
"There will be flooding in some low-lying and poorly drained areas. People who are likely to be affected should take necessary precautions to reduce their exposure to the risk posed by the heavy rain and flooding," it said.
"The Gale or Storm Signal Number 8 is expected to remain in force for most of the rest of today."
In an update on Wednesday, the city's government said there were five reports of fallen trees.
"No reports of landslide and flooding have been received so far," it added.
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SCHOOLS CLOSED, FLIGHTS DELAYED
The Education Bureau announced that all schools were closed on Wednesday.
"Schools should implement contingency measures to ensure the safety of students. They should ensure that conditions are safe before allowing students to return home," it said in a statement.
Care centres and other welfare services - including after-school centres, elderly services and day rehabilitation centres - were also closed.
"Members of the public who have taken their children and family members to those centres are advised to make arrangements for their safe return home as soon as possible," the Hong Kong government said.
Flights were also delayed due to the weather.
"Due to the impact brought by Typhoon Wipha, flight movements at Hong Kong International Airport may be affected. Airport Authority Hong Kong advises passengers to stay alert of airlines' announcements and confirm their seats before heading to the airport," Hong Kong International Airport said in a Facebook post.
Cathay Pacific issued a statement at 12.30pm warning that there might be delays, diversions or cancellations to flights.
As of 5.25pm on Wednesday, the Airport Authority Hong Kong reported that a total of 397 flights were delayed and 22 flights were cancelled, according to the city's government.
Congestion in telecommunications networks may also occur, the city's Office of the Communications Authority said.
"In view of the inclement weather, members of the public may be eager to contact relatives and friends by phone or through social media or instant messaging via broadband services," it added.
"This can cause serious congestion in the telecommunications networks. If your phone calls cannot get through instantly or you experience very slow broadband services, please try again later to avoid further burden on the networks."
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Other government services were also affected, including the trade and industry department's public services, immigration services and some services under the transport department like driving tests.
Ferry services were suspended temporarily, including services at the Tuen Mun and the Hong Kong-Macau ferry terminals.
SINGAPOREANS IN HONG KONG ADVISED TO TAKE PRECAUTIONS
The Singapore Consulate-General in Hong Kong advised Singaporeans in Hong Kong and Macao to take precautions due to the weather conditions.
Singaporeans likely to be affected should secure their homes, doors and windows, and avoid the shoreline and outdoor activity, it said in a Facebook post.