Most of my extended family currently resides in Hong Kong, and because of that, I pay close attention to the news and to the weather reports. What I’ve noticed happening more frequently in Hong Kong are the typhoons. Hurricanes and typhoons are basically the same thing but the difference is where the storm occurs, which in this case is in Hong Kong, where the typhoon season occurs from around May to Early November. However, around July to November is when the chances of a typhoon occurring are up to 50%. Even though typhoons happen a lot in Hong Kong, I’m not that worried about it because Hong Kong is well prepared and that’s because they are more or less used to it. Hong Kong has buildings designed to withstand a typhoon. Below is a image of the ICC Building in Hong Kong which is where my family would evacuate to in the event of a major typhoon. A recent story in ClimateSignals.org tells how typhoons, cyclones and hurricanes are more intense and one of the reasons if climate change. The warming seas (from a warmer earth) produce the ocean heat that fuels many types of storms, adding to a more destructive wind speed. Since warmer air holds more moisture, the precipitation is also increased.
Below is a picture of the ICC building in West Kowloon, which is the 10th tallest building in the world. The building is designed to sway in typhoon winds.
The most recent typhoon that happened in Hong Kong was Typhoon Hato. It was a strong tropical storm that hit Southern China in August of 2017. The very destructive Hato caused damage totaling $6.82 billion. Hong Kong raised their tropical cyclone signals to
the highest category in anticipation of the storm, and it still inflicted around $1billion worth of damages in that area. Typhoon Hato didn’t take any lives in Hong Kong but it did take 10 lives in neighboring places in Macau. That’s the difference in Macau and Hong Kong, Hong Kong was well prepared for such a disaster while Macau wasn’t as prepared. Hong Kong didn’t suffer any deaths while Macau did, and Hong Kong went back to normal on the next day. Small businesses get affected a lot more but at least lives weren’t lost in Hong Kong. Macau is a small place with a population of 650,000 so there were far fewer emergency service personnel available during times of need. Even though Hong Kong is well prepared and used to seeing Typhoons, it is still a huge disaster that occurs. Many destruction and deaths still happen but the recovery process is more efficient than other less developed places.
The increasing frequency of severe weather is also apparent in the United States, as exemplified by the hurricane season of 2017. 2017 was one of the busiest and most destructive hurricane seasons, with the arrival of 17 named storms, 10 hurricanes, and 6 major hurricanes. It is well above the average Atlantic hurricane season, which has a 30-year average of 12 storms, 6 hurricanes, and 2 major storms. It is hard to not attribute this increase to global warming, especially seeing the damage done by Hurricane Harvey in Houston and Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. We can see that the increased temperature led to much stronger storms with intense precipitation, most evident during Hurricane Harvey, where up to 50 inches of rain was recorded in some parts of Texas. In addition to the hurricane rains in 2017, the Houston region has seen what is called 500-year floods in 2015 and 2016 as well, and data collected by the EPA has shown that incidents of heavy precipitation has seen a rise since the 1990’s. Looking at the data, we should begin to plan for an increasing rate of severe weather and precipitation, especially in the Southern states, who are often in the path of hurricanes.
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