The Washington Post

Tropical storm Kai-tak (Helen) may strike Hong Kong as typhoon


Track forecast for tropical storm Kai-tak, predicted to become a typhoon (Joint Typhoon Warning Center)

From 3:06 p.m. EDT Wednesday (3:06 a.m. Thursday, Hong Kong local time): A strong tropical storm that slammed the northern Philippines has its sights set on the region around Hong Kong.

Named Kai-tak but known as Helen locally, the storm has maximum sustained winds of about 65 mph and was positioned 370 miles east-southeast of Hong Kong at 8 p.m. local time (8 a.m. EDT) in the south China Sea.

The Joint Typhoon Warning Center projects the storm’s peak winds to increase to 85 mph in the next day, which would make it a low-end typhoon.

SEA SURFACE TEMPERATURES REMAIN VERY FAVORABLE [FOR INTENSIFICATION] (29 TO 30 CELSIUS) WITH A NOTABLE WARM POOL LOCATED ALONG COASTAL CHINA

It is predicted to make landfall around 8 p.m. local time (8 a.m. EDT) Thursday just west of Hong Kong in southern China.

As Kai-tak swept across Luzon Island - the northernmost island in the Philippines, it triggered landslides and killed two people. Rainfall rates were as high as 1.4 inches per hour Agence France-Presse reported. Over ocean waters of the Pacific, Our Amazing Planet said rainfall rates reached 4 inches per hour based on satellite estimates.

Adding to the chaos in the Philippines, the Associated Press reported state weather agency employees staged a protest about their wages during the storm. It wrote:

Forecasters and other employees of the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration wore black arm bands and hoisted streamers urging the government to resume hazard pay and other allowances.

While the workers did not plan any work stoppage, protest leader Ramon Agustin said some hard-up employees have failed to report for work due to lack of money.


Satellite image of tropical storm Kai-tak in the South China sea (NOAA)

With the storm now eyeing south China and Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Observatory has issued its “standby signal, no. 1” which encourages “precautions against damage” such as clearing gutters as well as securing hinges, bolts, locks and shudders of windows and doors.

Should Kai-tak make hit Hong Kong as a typhoon, it would be the second such storm do so in the last month. Vicente, a more powerful typhoon with winds to 140 mph, came ashore southwest of Hong Kong July 24.

Jason is the Washington Post’s weather editor and Capital Weather Gang's chief meteorologist. He earned a master's degree in atmospheric science, and spent 10 years as a climate change science analyst for the U.S. government. He holds the Digital Seal of Approval from the National Weather Association.

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