Guest Entry: Typhoon Mangkhut in Hong Kong

With the permission of Aard regular and Hong Kong resident John Massey, here’s a compilation of his reporting on the impact of Typhoon Mangkhut on Hong Kong over the past day. John lives in Sha Tin in the New Territories, on the Shing Mun River. The times given are local to HK.


Friday 14 September 22:39. Well, that’s quite impressive – there’s currently one unnamed Tropical Disturbance in the Indian Ocean, one Super Typhoon (which everyone except the Filipinos is calling Mangkhut, but which the Filipinos are calling Ompong) about to cross northern Luzon and enter the South China Sea heading towards US!!!, and four Hurricanes in the Atlantic, one of which (Florence) has barrelled into North Carolina, one (Isaac) is heading for South America, and the other two (Helene and Joyce) seem to be trying make up their minds where to go (typical).

Sunday 16 September 12:04. River wall next to our place has just been overtopped, by a lot.

Sunday 16 September 12:33. Mangkhut is currently the closest it will get to HK, so hopefully things might now progressively start to ease off a bit, slowly. They need to. But with the shift in wind direction as it passes, the water levels will get even higher, so the flooding will get even worse.

I suspect the basement car park (where my car and bicycle are) is now inundated, but I can’t get down there to find out, because the lifts have been grounded, so there’s no way to get down to the car park without walking down the fire escape, going outside, and walking down another fire escape, and going outside is really not a good idea at the moment.

Sunday 16 September 14:17. The typhoon has moved enough so that the wind direction has shifted, so now we are more protected and not getting the very strong wind gusts we were getting. So it’s a lot less scary now.

Plus the water has stopped over-topping the river wall, at least for now. The amusing thing about that, if there is a funny side to it, is that now there is no way for the water to flow back into the river, because it is being held in by the wall, so the flood water is just sitting there, until the work crews can get here tomorrow or whenever and open the gates in the wall to let the water drain back into the river.

Sunday 16 September 14:30. Windows have stood up OK. My study window got hit very hard a couple of times by flying debris, but didn’t break. The much larger windows in the living room haven’t been hit by anything so far, luckily. But they have UV resistant plastic film on them, which helps resist breaking if they are hit by flying objects, and reduces resonance in the wind, which helps to resist breaking from wind pressure/oscillation. Typhoon winds are buffeting, rapid oscillation in wind pressure, so you can get those kinds of resonance effects in larger window panes. The recommendation is to put a big X of adhesive tape on the windows, which I was thinking about doing yesterday until my wife reminded me we already have the plastic film on them. Duh, yeah, I forgot about that. Even so, the living room windows were oscillating alarmingly in the strongest gusts we were getting earlier, but they didn’t go.

So, so far so good. Shouldn’t talk too soon, though, this thing is not over by a long way yet. I need to get down to the car park some time to see if it’s flooded and how the car and bike have fared. I might go down there soon, now that I think it’s OK-ish to go outside for a brief sprint to the fire escape down to the car park.

There are some people with kids sitting in the fire escape in the building, so I’m guessing their windows maybe didn’t do so well, and they have nowhere else to shelter.

Sunday 16 September 14:36. Yep, the Observatory report that the storm surge in Tolo Harbour, which is just down-river from us, reached 4.5m, but it has started dropping, which matches what I see.

Now we just need someone to come and take the plug out of the plug hole in the bath tub. They won’t be doing it today, they have more important things to attend to.

Sunday 16 September 14:58. I’m wrong – I went down to check – the people sitting in the fire escape talking to kids are the female security guard and a couple of the cleaning ladies, talking to some of the kids who live here to pass the time, because there is nothing else they can do at the moment. I guess it’s possible the building entry lobby is flooded with rainwater, which would help to explain why the lifts are out of action.

Sunday 16 September 15:26. There’s a lot of damage around different areas of HK. This being 2018, people are posting videos online, many of which are pretty dramatic. Lots of flooding, lots of smashed windows, lots of scaffolding down, big cranes leaning at scary angles, a couple of partial old building collapses. Several people have been injured, but no reports of fatalities yet. The emergency services are out in force and busy, so injured people are getting treated pretty promptly.

I have to say I think HK has dodged a bullet with this one. It has not been a direct hit, the centre of the storm is skirting about 100km to the south. But it is a very powerful storm, with a very large circulation, so we have still had the worst conditions I have ever seen here, including during the direct hit by Super Typhoon Hope in 1979, so it has been very bad, and it’s not over yet. On the other hand, preparedness has been very good – everyone saw this one coming and knew it would be bad, and most people seem to have behaved sensibly, which is not always the case.

But if it had deviated only slightly on its track and had made a direct hit on HK, it would have been a whole lot worse. If it had threaded the gap between the Philippines and Taiwan, instead of crossing the northern tip of Luzon, which caused it to weaken slightly as it crossed land, it would have been worse. Bad luck for Filipinos, with 21 dead reported there so far and counting, but a bit of luck for HK.

We dodged a bullet with Hato last year when it missed HK by 20km and wrecked Macau, we seem to have dodged a bullet with Mangkhut this year – we can’t keep hoping for the best and relying on luck.

I have now lost patience completely with climate change deniers and do-nothing politicians.

Sunday 16 September 17:48. Finally girded up my loins and went downstairs to go out and check on the car park.

Entry lift lobby is fine – one family has taken up residence there, so I presume they have a problem with their flat, but they seem cheerful enough. Maybe they just like it down there. Lifts are out, but I can’t see why – maybe they just shut them down because the building was swaying too much.

Going outside was a challenge – wind gusts are still so strong I could barely stand against them, plus I was wading through 75mm of water ponding on the podium from relentless heavy rain, so strong wind gusts plus slippery underfoot, not a good combination. Whatever, I made it. All that gym training pays off, ya knows.

Only minor bits of flooding in the car park. Car is fine – plastered with wind-blown leaves is all, and they’ll all wash off in the rain as soon as I exit the car park. So I can drive Daughter to the train station to go to work tomorrow – not having her slogging on foot all that way through torrential rain with falling tree branches and bits of buildings, etc., and her chance of catching a taxi will be zero, so Dad’s free taxi service will be operating. I am assuming all storm signals will have been cancelled by tomorrow, but that remains to be seen (but if I had to bet money, I’d bet they will be).

All schools will stay closed tomorrow to give time to assess damage, clean up and make sure the buildings and grounds are all safe before letting the kids go back, which is a very sensible decision. I have to applaud that.

It would actually be a sensible decision to keep everything closed tomorrow, so everyone can stay home while they clean up the whole place and make sure everything is safe, the roads are all clear of fallen trees and public transport is all operating OK, but I predict they won’t do that – the business lobby would scream their heads off about lost revenue; they always do. I’m keeping notes on them – come the revolution, they’ll all be going up against the wall.

Thousands of trees are down, including a lot around our place, big mature trees. Pretty sad. Some have just snapped off at the trunk, others have been shredded, and others have been torn out by the roots.

Mangkhut will cross the coast of Guangdong pretty soon – currently hammering poor old Macau, but should cross the coast by about 7.00 pm, so it will start to lose intensity fairly fast once it does that. So, effectively, it’s pretty well all over for HK, except for a massive clean-up job.

Until the next one.

Sunday 16 September 19:20. Severe flooding reported in Macau, so it’s a repeat of what they got from Typhoon Hato last year, poor devils.

Water levels are dropping all around HK, but some low lying flood-prone areas still have bad flooding. People from those areas were evacuated yesterday before the storm hit, and accommodated in temporary shelters. No fun at all – sleeping on the floor of some Town Hall, getting awful mass-cooked food from some temporary kitchen, and then when they finally get to go home, it’s to a home wrecked by flood water which they have to try to clean up and make habitable again. Water ruins everything, and the whole place stays unbearably damp for months. Everything goes mouldy – walls, floor coverings, everything.

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20 thoughts on “Guest Entry: Typhoon Mangkhut in Hong Kong

  1. Thanks, Jazz. There have been no serious casualties in HK. Considering how fearsome the conditions were yesterday, and the extent of damage, that’s a testament to people’s preparedness, and the efforts of the emergency services. That was all better yesterday than I have seen in any previous storm. But the whole place is a mess, and will take weeks to clean up and get back to normal. There are lots of trees down, and windblown debris, blocking roads.

    The lifts in our 23 floor block are still out of action, and are likely to stay that way for quite a while – I expect all of the lift repairmen will be very busy for the next few days at least. I finally got an explanation of the reason for the lifts breaking down from the security guard this morning – they got flooded. The lower basement car park is flooded, and the water got into the lifts when they opened on that floor. My car and bicycle are parked on the upper basement floor, which is OK, so when I went to check on them yesterday evening, I didn’t bother to go down to check the lower basement. Maybe I should have, although knowing that wouldn’t have changed anything.

    In the fire escape this morning, I encountered a rather frail looking elderly man walking down the stairs. He said “I have come down from the 20th floor. Coming down is easy. Going up is…terrible.” I can imagine.

    The decision to keep all schools closed today is a very good call, but employers are requiring everyone to report for work, which is not such a good call, and is attracting a lot of public criticism. A lot of public transport services are still suspended. This morning, residents of our block who have cars in the upper car park that they can drive out have been offering a lift to town to other residents, people they don’t know, who are stuck because the buses are not running, or because their cars in the lower car park are not accessible because of the flood water. That’s good to see. People here respond well to adversity.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Daughter’s boss has given her the option to go to work today or not, so she has responded “Not.” Good call. This being 2018, she was first able to look at images posted by people at the local train station, plus their comments about how long they have been waiting for a train they can get on, and the masses of people waiting on the platforms are a major deterrent. They don’t look happy, and adding to their numbers is not going to make them any happier. Train service is “intermittent”, so the numbers of waiting commuters are piling up, and they can’t divert them to bus services because the buses aren’t running.

    People are already tired from battling to keep water out of their homes yesterday, and they are now getting extra tired from trying to get to work. Clean up crews are battling to get their work done among masses of people. Recovery staff are battling to get services up and running again, while trying to cope with masses of people.

    Public criticism of the government is mounting for not declaring today an emergency public holiday. That would have been a really good call to make, but they didn’t make it because (I infer) they were scared of the criticism they would get from the business lobby about lost revenue. Or just because they are too gormless* and haven’t looked to see what conditions are like out in the real world that they don’t inhabit, and never come out to look at.

    So my score sheet currently shows: Preparedness 10/10. Recovery 0/10, and that’s no reflection on clean up and recovery staff or the general public, it’s a reflection on employers generally and senior members of the government.

    * mid 18th century (originally as gaumless): from dialect gaum ‘understanding’ (from Old Norse gaumr ‘care, heed’) + -less.

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  3. As for Ronny ‘legal expert’ Tong, with his bizarre permed hair, the government can shut down the whole place for a storm, but they can’t extend that for another day when conditions on the roads are hazardous, with debris lying everywhere, traffic lights not working and no traffic police to direct traffic because they are too stretched to cope, or just can’t get there?

    The bus companies are not forgoing profits for nothing – if they say the roads are not safe enough to resume services, you can bet they know what they are talking about. Ditto the ferry companies. Ditto the Mass Transit Railway.

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  4. Being a nosy bugger, I have now been down to the lower basement car park to assess the flooding for myself. Only part of it is flooded – it slopes downwards towards one end, and it is only the lower end that is flooded, but the water ponded there is very deep. And the catch is, that is where the vehicle entry/exit ramp is. So people whose cars are high and dry can’t drive them out of the carpark – they’ll stall as soon as they reach the deep water. Sensibly, no one has tried.

    But while I was there, some workmen were busy installing a pump to pump the water out, so pretty soon that problem will be fixed.

    Not so the lifts. The Management Office advise that the lift engineers have been called to attend to them, but they have a big backlog of call-outs (as expected), so this will take “some time” (as expected). There are crazy people in this world who train themselves in stair running, and engage in races to see who can run up stairs to the top of 100 storey buildings to see who can get to the top the fastest. But the average HK person doesn’t train in stair running, so having to trudge up 23 floors to get home is a fairly taxing trip for even fairly young and fit people, especially if they have to do it a few times in a day. For elderly people, it’s murder. So, if “some time” means some time today or tomorrow, that’s probably just about bearable, but beyond that it’s going to become a real problem for older people. We have some elderly residents in wheel chairs, and they are just stuck at home until the lifts are working again.

    I probably don’t need to go to the gym today – I’m getting enough exercise just going up and down the stairs, and improving in speed with practice. But I might go anyway. I have a strong aversion to being shut inside and frequently need to get out for a while. (Which makes me the world’s worst hospital patient – I keep making jail breaks, wheeling my intravenous drips suspended from a stand with wheels on it if necessary – probably looks fairly odd to see someone limping along a city street clutching his stitches to try to avoid bursting them and wheeling a drip stand, but I have been known to do it multiple times. It’s illegal here for a hospital patient to leave the hospital premises without first having been discharged, and on one occasion a disgruntled nurse threatened to call the police out after me, to which my response was “Fine. I’ll be back after I’ve had a walk, but if you don’t like that, call them.” Either I successfully called her bluff, or else the cops were too busy to bother looking for me, because that never happened. I don’t know why the nurses get so fussed about this – I’m a big boy who can take care of himself, and I always go back when I’m ready to. I suppose they have to follow their instructions, though. And I have to follow my nature, and I’m not improving with age.)

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  5. Update on services at 1.00 pm: Mass Transit Railway still chaotic, 600 roads still blocked and 170 sets of traffic lights not functioning. If that is not grounds for declaring a continuing emergency situation and keeping the place shut down just for today to give the repair and clean up crews a chance to get their work done, I don’t know what is. But they haven’t, and won’t. And some people are not going to let them forget that, and nor should they.

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    • It’s difficult to compare Hong Kong and my municipality (which is much smaller in size and population, and has a total of four sets of traffic lights). But while we try to keep going through snowstorms (and generally shrug off anything less than about 15 cm per incident), my town has shut down over considerably less than that.

      Per Wikipedia, Hong Kong has a land area of 1106 km^2. Using a Fermi estimate of 100 traffic lights per square kilometer (which is typical for US urban blocks assuming a light at every intersection), I see that you have about 0.2% of your traffic lights sets out of operation. I assume that the nonfunctional lights are not randomly distributed through the city: some parts would be more strongly affected than others. The 600 blocked roads is more of a problem. Hong Kong is not laid out on a grid, so you will have more streets per square kilometer than the US does, but that sounds like a lot of obstacles to be dealt with.

      So yes, if the city isn’t telling non-emergency personnel to take the day off, they aren’t doing their job.

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    • Eric, you can’t apply that constant to the total land area of HK as if it were one big urban area of that size. In reality, it is nothing like that. That calculation will give you a gross over-estimate of the total number of traffic lights.

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  6. The trip to and from the gym was informative. Trees down partly blocking roads everywhere, and a bit of other debris. But the most impressive sight was some steel street light poles literally bent double by the wind – they would have been worth taking some photos of if I hadn’t been driving. From the direction they were bent in, I could tell that happened when the wind was coming from the NE, which is when we were getting the strongest gusts.

    Thankfully, power lines are underground here, so most people suffered no problems at all with electricity supply during the storm, and there are no power lines lying around on the ground anywhere. Some of the hospitals went onto emergency back-up power supply during the storm, in case there were fluctuations in supply, but I think that was just a prudent precaution more than a necessity.

    Traffic was very light – the bus services are still not running (very prudently from what I saw) so the roads weren’t clogged by big double decker buses they way they usually are, so it was possible to drive around the fallen trees and other obstacles without taking risks. And very few taxis – presumably all busy somewhere else, or staying off the roads out of safety concerns. All of the traffic lights were working normally, in our area anyway, and we got more than 300mm of rain where we are yesterday, as much or more than any other area, so I don’t know what has happened to so many other traffic lights that have been knocked out in other areas.

    It’s now 5.00 pm here, and I saw only one guy trying to move some of the smaller fallen tree branches off one of the roads – just looked like a member of the public making a well intentioned but pretty futile effort, not part of some clearance gang – they will need chainsaws to clear a lot of the bigger stuff. So this situation is obviously going to persist for quite a while – more like weeks than days. No idea when they will get around to clearing the fallen trees off our street – reportedly they are targeting getting the main highways cleared first, and the major intersections cleared and with traffic lights repaired. So we’ll be very far down the list – I expect some of the local residents will take matters into their own hands and get as much of the stuff off the street as they can, once they realize that the cavalry will not be galloping to the rescue any time soon.

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  7. As for Ronny ‘cauliflower head’ Tong and his pontification about how the government has no emergency powers to shut the place down in the interests of public safety (which it obviously has, because it does it every time certain weather warnings are issued by the Observatory), what does he think will happen when a worse situation that today occurs? Because sooner or later it obviously will. Rely on the ‘goodwill’ of employers not to require their employees to go to work again? Most of them demonstrated today that they don’t have any goodwill.

    So, if he’s right (which he isn’t), they’d better get moving on getting some legislation passed to give them the requisite powers. It’s not like there haven’t been precedents – Typhoon Hope in 1979 left the place in enough mess to make clear that such powers might be needed. But of course the current Chief Executive wasn’t in the job then, and neither were any of the bureau secretaries, so none of them were paying attention – only we ‘technicians’ were – and we know what we are here for: to take the blame when something goes wrong, not to be listened to when we try to advise these gutless wonders on such things when the sun is shining and the birds are singing.

    Sorry – if I sound angry, it’s because I am. Today was a massive failure in leadership and responsibility by the head of the government. She had nothing to say. Nothing, just sat there this morning next to the Secretary for Transport while she rattled off all of the numbers about roads blocked, traffic lights not working and all the rest of it, and said not a word. What was she there for, decoration?

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  8. All schools will stay closed again tomorrow. Government’s idea? No, the Federation of Education Workers told them it’s necessary – they’ve had people on the ground checking the safety or otherwise of school premises, and have made a realistic assessment of when the school buses will be able to start running again, and they have the heft of enough union members to make the government listen.

    At least the Secretary for Security has been doing his job by the sound of it, calling the damage to HK serious and extensive. Sounds like he for one has been out seeing for himself what conditions are like, and reading all of the reports he’s been getting back from the police and other emergency services.

    I probably need to get off this, it’s doing my head in. Safe to say that an awful lot of members of the public are seriously angry at the Chief Executive for not declaring a state of emergency this morning, and they are not going to forgive or forget.

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    • Those are genuine. Southern District means on the south side of Hong Kong Island, on the south coast where they had maximum exposure. I have seen the swaying building clip before, it’s real, which means the other one is real as well. I conclude that we can pronounce Mrs Jen Zhu Scott to be a straight shooter.

      Thanks, mate.

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  9. As of this morning, all of the trains are reported to be back to normal operation, and all but 55 bus services have resumed. HK people are amazing.

    Late last night my heart was gladdened by the sight of two lift repairmen at our place, looking exhausted and bitching flat out to each other as they trudged up the fire escape to get to the lift winding gear housed on the roof, and I don’t blame them for that, but they were on the job. But this morning the lifts are still not working, so evidently it’s a serious problem. That’s definitely not good news for the people living on higher floors.

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  10. https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/politics/article/2164663/typhoon-mangkhut-hong-kong-leader-carrie-lam-defends#add-comment

    She just doesn’t get it. She talks about the Chief Executive in the third person, as if it’s not her. Not “people can blame me”, it’s “people can blame the Chief Executive.” Like, well OK, they can blame the CE if they want to vent at some cardboard cutout, but it’s really not the cardboard’s fault. What happened to “transparency and accountability” of the government, that they have kept trumpeting about for decades? Evidently that doesn’t apply to her.

    She admits, in effect, that the Emergency Regulations Ordinance could have been used to declare an emergency, with specific arrangements – they didn’t need declaration of a general public holiday for everyone; that’s brainless. They exercised their emergency powers to keep all of the schools closed for two days – that was a very good call, but not their idea, it was done at the urging of the teachers’ union, to give time for conditions on the roads and school premises to be made safe before the kids go back. Well done teachers. They needed an instruction to employers to not require non-emergency personnel to attend their place of work, exactly the way that they are when certain weather warnings are issued by the Observatory, and have been for many decades.

    Many people could have worked from home, if permitted, but they weren’t. Lost revenue on the day would easily have been made up later. Pent up retail demand would have been realized later – if people need to buy something and can’t do it today, they’ll do it tomorrow. It’s trivial. There were no ‘legal ramifications.’ What is she going to do in a worse crisis – sit there mulling the legal ramifications of doing anything at all? HK has a 10% chance of a Magnitude 7 earthquake in the next 50 years – what would she do if that happens, sit there mulling over the legal ramifications?

    It makes my blood run cold. She’s not just a useless, dithering, scared old woman who didn’t know what to do when faced with a very short-lived emergency situation that needed a quick insightful decision informed by all of the facts, who is not up to the job, she’s something worse than that. She’s reptilian – possible vague unidentified ‘legal ramifications’ are more of a concern than people’s safety and well being? What legal ramifications? Legal ramifications for whom? Her?

    If she seriously thinks people’s safety was not put in jeopardy yesterday, she still has no idea of what the conditions were like. And that’s really worrying – she’s totally out of touch with reality.

    HK is shut down completely when particular weather warnings are issued by the Observatory. There are no legal ramifications. No one even mentions legal implications of doing that. She is invoking something completely imaginary, to try to cover her own indecision and inaction – oh, let everyone sort it out for themselves. I’ll play safe and stay out of it, to make sure I don’t get myself into any trouble. Well, doing nothing in such a situation is a grave sin of omission, to use a term she might just about understand.

    Maybe she prayed to her Catholic God for guidance, being such a good Christian and all – well, if so, he didn’t give her the right answer. He didn’t give her any answer at all. I wonder why.

    My kind hearted wife tried to defend her: “She’s just an old woman. What could she do? She doesn’t know anything.” Exactly. She’s supposed to be responsible for the safety and well being of 7.4 million people, and she’s not up to the job. She doesn’t even seem to realize that is what her job is. It’s not because she is an old woman, there are many brilliant, courageous old women; it is because of the person that she is.

    Hong Kong people have performed brilliantly over the past three days. They fill me with admiration. Despite everything, their spirits are high – strangers are smiling at me and greeting me when they see me, putting their hands on my shoulders in a gesture of friendship and solidarity; together in adversity and shared humanity. What an absolute tragedy that such great people have a leader like that.

    On a brighter note, we are told our lifts will be working again by tonight. Or will be fixed tonight, ready for tomorrow morning. I am not sure which. Either way, I will believe it when I see it, but if so, that will be a real relief for a lot of people.

    Sorry for the rant. This will be my last comment on this guest thread, unless other people wish to comment or ask questions, and I will respond. Thank you for reading. Thanks to malakit for contributing, that was appreciated.

    And thanks to Martin for posting the thread.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. OK, last comment, I promise. One lift is working. Hooray! One old lady was nearly in tears of gratitude – she’s not too mobile and has had enough of climbing 20 flights of stairs to get home. They are still working on the other one, but I am hopeful that will be in service again before too long. So “by tonight” really meant that – actually before tonight; exceeding expectations.

    So, effectively, most of HK is now operating normally again, or will be by tomorrow when the kids all go back to school. The full clean up and recovery will take a lot longer, but life has returned to normal for most people. Given that was the worst storm to affect HK on record, that’s pretty remarkable.

    No resting on laurels though. With climate change, we are going to get more of this, and worse. I will be watching what the government does about this very closely. Dealing with emergencies is something I have worked on here for 31 years; I know a lot about it from first hand experience, and I haven’t finished with this sort of work yet; I still have a technical involvement, despite allegedly being past ‘retirement age’. There is no retirement, and won’t be as long as my brain functions and my body is up to it.

    My eyes are on them, and will stay on them.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Thanks John; that was an excellent write-up. It’s wonderful that the people of Hong Kong can work together in the face of disaster, but without adequate leadership it’s only going to get more difficult as global warming sets in and the typhoons/hurricanes get worse.

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    • Thanks, mate. You are right about all of that – not only will get worse, has already been getting worse. Several years ago I got all of the data on frequency and severity of tropical cyclones in the Pacific and plotted it out, and the trend of increasing severity of storms was already clear then.

      I apologize to readers for turning incandescent at the incompetence and blatant dishonesty of our glorious leader and her immediate subordinates. I had my reasons. The basic problem is that, not only are they not technical people, they are not capable of understanding what technical people have been trying to tell them, or not wanting to (tried and true political ploy – when someone tries to warn you something bad could happen and probably will, act like you haven’t heard them and do nothing). And even after this, they still clearly don’t get it, or don’t want to. We have got the wrong people in the wrong jobs, and there is no evidence to indicate that is going to change.

      The meteorologists, engineers and other STEM professionals in HK are already mobilized about climate change, and working on what to do to make HK more resilient, because shifting a region of 7.4 million people into a different legal jurisdiction is not an option, and in any case there isn’t time, because it is happening now and has been for quite a while. But there is zero recognition at the senior government level that there is even a problem. The government’s crisis management plan is ‘when something bad happens, we will all sit together and decide on what to do.’ Demonstrably, that doesn’t work. Crisis management is something I know something about, because I have spent a long time engaged in it, and it takes a lot more than saying ‘Oh, when it happens, we’ll work out how to deal with it.’ A hell of a lot more. You need a proper plan, and need to put measures in place in readiness, and to do that you need to play ‘what ifs’ and predict the sorts of crises you will have to deal with, not just wait and see what happens and hope for the best, because you won’t get the best or anything like it.

      A lot more than that, structural measures need to be put in place to cope with stronger winds, bigger storm surges, and more intense rainfall events, even before you factor in general sea level rise, and there is little evidence that any of that is happening or is going to happen. There is some, because that’s being led by engineers, but not nearly enough fast enough on the existing infrastructure. It all needs to be happening now, and it’s not.

      About two decades ago I employed a guy who was a crisis management consultant, based in southern Thailand of all places because he was a mad keen diver, to help me to draw up a proper crisis management plan for the organization I was working for then. He had been a firefighter in Victoria, and not only did he really know his stuff, he was a very amusing person with an excellent sense of humour – I loved working with him. He told me that when he was working in Victoria, he and his firefighting mates had drawn up a joke 10 point plan for crisis management, and Point 10 was “Remove all distinguishing marks and mingle with the crowd.” Well, he was obviously joking, but that’s basically what our glorious leader has just done – when the shit really hits the fan, try not to get blamed for it.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Round up on Mangkhut by meteorologists at the Hong Kong Observatory, which pretty much says all that needs to be said about the storm, and what it means for the future:
    http://www.hko.gov.hk/blog/en/archives/00000216.htm

    Even now it is clear from very recent press articles that mainstream journalists and the public in general have not forgiven or forgotten the inept/don’t care performance by the government leadership in the aftermath of the storm, and they are not going to.

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