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Typhoon Vicente: The morning after the storm before

Surveying the damage from Hong Kong’s first T10 for 13 years

A screen grab from the Hong Kong Observatory shows the T8 signal, as well as Amber rain, flood and landslide warnings after Typhoon Vicente.

Hong Kong’s first T10 since 1999 had been downgraded by daybreak

“A double-digit hell beast”

So Typhoon Vicente made a flying visit to Hong Kong last night. The first category 10 storm to hit the city in 13 years and, after three years of waiting, my first real taste of what this much-hyped typhoon business is all about. The fireworks only started around midnight. The T8 signal went up around 6pm, and as the storm intensified as it drew closer to Hong Kong, the rumours of a T10 were confirmed as the branches started flying.

Obviously, after waiting so long to witness a double-digit hell beast of my own, I spent almost the entirety of it asleep, only waking up when my alarm went off at 07:10, before a quick HKO check had me rolling back into my duvet to enjoy the storm-borne thrill of an unscheduled morning off work.

But though most of the fun stuff had fizzled out by the time daylight came around, it would have been wasteful not to hit the streets to see what I could see. Despite things not looking as apocalyptic as I’d hoped when I peered out of my window, I managed to drag myself from my stolen lie-in, threw on the nearest floor-clothes and, camera in hand, stepped out into the morning after the storm before.

Trees uprooted by Typhoon Vicente lie on the ground near to Times Square in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, on July 24, 2012.

Typhoon Vicente was the strongest typhoon to hit Hong Kong for 13 years.

A tree uprooted by Typhoon Vicente lies on the pavement on Hennessey Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong, on July 24, 2012.

The storm brought down hundreds of trees and littered the streets with debris.

Debris-strewn streets

As I only live a minute from Times Square, I took a walk around the streets nearby and discovered what I couldn’t determine from my earlier glance out of my rain-streaked window – i.e. that Typhoon Vicente hadn’t arrived peacefully.

Winds had reached up to 140 kph overnight, and though things had died down considerably by daybreak, the rain was still falling and the strength of the previous night’s storm was evident. Leaves and broken branches littered the streets, dead umbrellas lay everywhere, while more than a few felled trees blocked roads and pavements waiting to be put out of their misery by the chainsaws that would later come.

Uprooted trees lie on the street behind Times Square, Causeway Bay, after Typhoon Vicente hits Hong Kong

Uprooted trees behind Times Square, Causeway Bay

The last time the T10 signal was hoisted was in 1999 when Hong Kong suffered a direct hit from Typhoon York.  Back then, the T10 signal was maintained for a record 11 hours and gusts of up to 234 kph were recorded. Two people died and over 500 were injured. In contrast, by lunch time today, Vicente had injured over 100 people, but no deaths had been reported.

By around 10am, the storm had been downgraded from T8 to T3 as it slowly crept away from the scene of the crime. Only the debris-strewn streets and the clean-up to come were left as evidence of its passing as Hong Kong quickly resumed business as usual.

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Lost umbrellas and fallen signs, Wanchai

mannequin head in street puddle hong kong

Fortunately, there were no reports of any fatalities

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