the answer to this really depends on your situation.  riding out a direct hit typhoon in your hong kong flat is totally different than getting smacked around by 130 kph winds and sideways rain in your nipa hut in the philippines.  the hong kong observatory issues warnings such as the following (appropriate for the current signal 3):

1. You are advised not to delay in taking all precautions
to protect your home or property. Make sure now that all
loose objects are secure. Porch furniture, flower pots and
other objects likely to be blown away should be taken
indoors. Check again and make sure all windows and doors
can be securely locked.

2. Since seas are rough, you are advised to stay away from
the shoreline and not to engage in water sports.

3. Fishing vessels not yet in typhoon shelters should seek
shelter without delay. Check again that all deck fittings
are firmly fastened. If available, heavy anchors should be
prepared and used in addition to regular anchors.

4. Listen to your radio, watch your TV or browse the Hong
Kong Observatory’s web site for information on the tropical

so really unless you are an extreme surfer, balcony gardener, sampan driver or window cleaner on ifc 2, there’s not a lot changing for you at the moment.  the typhoon signals in hong kong tell you how strong the wind is.  there are actually five levels of storm signals – 1, 3, 8, 9, and 10. these pertain to the strength of the wind and proximity of the storm. in the last few years we’ve been here, we have experienced a handful of 8’s and quite a few 1’s and 3’s. 9 and 10 are really destructive, and i have yet to experience those (and will be happy not to).

typhoon nuri's track

typhoon nuri's track

the last signal 8 we had a few weeks ago created some serious howling in the building. you can imagine a city full of extreme high rises getting slammed by high winds.  not a great time to relax in your 80th floor penthouse.  the gusts can get strong enough to break windows, and that’s where things really start to fall apart.  normally the power stays on, offices shut down and people go home, and everyone takes a little break.  actually the last part isn’t totally true – the internet slows to a crawl and the phone lines get all jammed, since people are still frantically working to connect with the rest of the world unaffected by the typhoon.

it looks like we’re on track for a direct hit tomorrow afternoon by typhoon nuri.  i figure i should put this up now in case we lose access.   will keep you posted on how things shape up around here.

update:  as of 7:40am, we are at signal 8.  i woke up to some howling gusts (and blueberry muffins!).  it’s looking pretty grey and wet.

update 2:  as of 1pm, we are still at signal 8.  i’m now aware of every non-sealed part of the flat, each of which is advertising itself to me by a high-pitched whistling sound.  a friend trying to fly out was invited to the airport by cathay pacific, and his flight was cancelled on his arrival – sounds like the airport is pretty much shut down for the next 12 hours.  water dripping off the roof flies down the side of the building very fast, only to fly up the side of the building second later.  this results in a curious flotation of droplets right outside the window.  like rain in space.  there is a large construction crane i can see that is swinging around – i guess it’s working like a weathervane so that it doesn’t come crashing down.  no people/cars in sight outside.

update 3:  as of 1:40pm, it is now signal 9.  my first ever.  we are now being warned to stay away from windows.  we are not that high up, but high enough that it makes me nervous to hear small rocks bouncing off the windows.  still on track for a direct hit.

update 4:  as of 6pm, we are in the eye of the storm.  it is eerily silent outside, with a misty rain falling and no wind.  the storm is pretty much directly on top of us at the moment.

update 5:  as of 7:30pm, the bottom half of the storm came in with a bang: two flower pots on the balcony (sheltered!) blew over with a smash.  will need to clean that up later.  winds are not as steady but stronger gusts.  nuri has several hours more to blow based on the timing of the storm’s first half.  i wonder where the birds go during these things?

update 6:  as of 10am, we are back to signal 1.  just a light drizzle now, but lots of debris on the road, in the pool, on the balcony, etc.  total damage consists of two broken flowerpots.  there were some injuries as a result of the storm – a surfer went missing, a man had a glass ceiling fall on him, and around 70 other people were treated for injuries.  this was the first signal 9 in five years.