Typhoon Megi, which left 19 people dead in the Philippines, weakened as it moved closer to the south China coast, where authorities issued the highest alert and stepped up emergency preparations for landfall.
The storm, packing sustained winds of 176 kilometers per hour (109 mph), down from 185 kph earlier, was 440 kilometers southeast of Hong Kong at 2 p.m. local time moving north at 9.3 kph, the U.S. Joint Typhoon Warning Center said on its website.
Megi is forecast to weaken further and make landfall near Shantou in Guangdong province on Oct. 23. The storm’s eye may be about 370 kilometers from Hong Kong at its closest, the center said. The Hong Kong Observatory issued a No. 3 Strong Wind Signal, indicating winds as high as 62 kph are expected.
“Signal No. 3 is expected to be in force for some time,” Lee Tsz-cheung, a senior scientific officer at the observatory, said in a phone interview. “We do not expect the weather today to deteriorate rapidly.”
Hong Kong’s government is making emergency preparations for the typhoon as it nears as a direct hit may have a “serious” impact on the city, acting Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok said today.
Chevron Closes Terminal
Chevron Corp. suspended unloading oil at its terminal at Tsing Yi in Hong Kong until the typhoon passes, spokeswoman Emily Lo said in a phone interview.
“The Hong Kong terminal is closed along with the fuel terminals,” said Dennis Lee, a shipping manager for agents Gulf Agency Company (Hong Kong) Ltd. “The tankers there have had to move from the anchorage areas to more sheltered waters.”
Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. doesn’t expect serious disruptions from the typhoon as it approaches Hong Kong and operations should be normal for the next 24 hours, it said in an e-mailed statement. Some flight delays or diversions may be possible later tomorrow, the company said.
In China, where flooding has left at least 2,000 people dead this year, authorities ordered passenger train services to and from Hainan province to resume after they were suspended on Oct. 19, the official Xinhua News Agency reported today. Megi’s impact is expected to be less than forecast, the report said.
China National Offshore Oil Corp. shut some of its offshore oil and gas wells, the company’s listed arm Cnooc Ltd. said in an e-mailed statement without giving further details.
“ If there is any significant impact on production facilities, the company will disclose it according to the relevant rules,” the statement said.
Shenzhen Reported Shut
China’s port of Shenzhen was shut as Megi moves closer to land, Reuters reported today, citing an unidentified shipping and logistics agent in Shenzhen.
Megi may exacerbate conditions in the southern provinces of Hainan and Guangdong, where water levels remain high following earlier storms that damaged flood-control infrastructure, according to the water resources ministry’s website.
Taiwanese authorities issued a sea and land warning as Megi approached, the Central Weather Bureau said in a statement.
Nineteen people died in the Philippines as the storm, which made landfall as a supertyphoon on Oct. 18, passed over Luzon, the National Disaster council said today.
Megi is estimated to have caused about 4.8 billion Philippine pesos ($111 million) of damage to infrastructure, agriculture, fisheries and schools, the statement said. The world’s biggest rice importer lost 314,000 tons of unmilled grain, Agriculture Undersecretary Joel Rudinas said today.
Megi, or catfish in Korean, is the 15th storm of the northwest Pacific season. The U.S. center is also monitoring two weather systems in the Pacific north and east of Saipan that may develop into cyclones within 12 to 24 hours.