Typhoon Weakens as It Heads Toward Chinese Mainland

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HONG KONG -- A powerful typhoon weakened sharply on Sunday and started veering away from Hong Kong, but local officials continued to warn residents to take precautions for extreme weather.

The Hong Kong Observatory warned of possible flooding in low-lying areas, strong winds and a storm surge from ocean waters pushed higher up the shoreline than usual by the wind. At 6:40 p.m. local time, the observatory raised its No. 8 signal, which warns of gale-force winds. The top signal is 10.

That was 21 minutes after the official time for sunset. But rain was already pouring down so hard that it was hard to discern more than a gradual, steady darkening as the wind rose.

The storm, Typhoon Usagi, approached the straits between the Philippines and Taiwan on Friday as a category 5 storm, the most powerful on the Saffir-Simpson scale used for measuring the force of hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean. In the Pacific, exceptionally strong typhoons are rated as severe typhoons or even super typhoons, and Typhoon Usagi, with sustained winds of more than 155 miles per hour, briefly qualified as a super typhoon before being downgraded to a severe typhoon.

By Sunday afternoon in Hong Kong, Usagi had already weakened to category 2 storm, with winds of 96 to 110 miles per hour, and had veered toward the Chinese mainland northeast of the city, according to projections by Tropical Storm Risk, a forecasting service based in London. The service forecast that the storm would weaken further to a category 1 after making landfall, but was still nearly certain to bring hurricane-force winds to the territory, which Britain returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

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This article originally appeared in The New York Times.


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