Typhoon Vicente Blasts Hong Kong


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Vicente’s hot towers (in red) show its developing intensity July 23rd, 2012. Image courtesy of NASA

How long will Typhoon Vicente last?

Hong Kong and Guangdong are experiencing the full force of typhoon season this week, with Typhoon Vicente slamming into Hong Kong on Tuesday, July 24th.

The typhoon’s winds were the worst experienced in the city in the last 10 years. Flights were grounded and the port closed as the city hunkered down.

Hot Towers Mark Typhoon Intensity

Vicente started as a lowly tropical depression on July 20th, but developed into a typhoon on July 23, 2012.

At first, it had light to moderate rainfall, but hot towers emerged from its center – these clouds were a marker for storm watchers, showing that it was likely that the typhoon would become more intense overnight.

Hot towers are tall cumulonimbus clouds that reach to the top of the troposphere, the lowest layer of the atmosphere. This type of weather phenomenon occurs when there is a large amount of latent heat in the area, and the existence of a hot tower in a typhoon is a warning sign that the typhoon is likely to intensify.

Over the period of July 22nd to the 23rd, warm ocean temperatures allowed Vicente to strengthen into a typhoon.

Vicente Causes Injuries and Property Damage in Hong Kong

Shortly after midnight, early on July 24th, the typhoon made its way to within 100 km of Hong Kong. Macau was also hit by strong winds from the typhoon. Damage has been considerable:

  • On Tuesday, 80 mph winds smashed scaffolds, knocked down trees, and delayed the start of the workday in Hong Kong.
  • The stock exchange opened late due to the damage in the city.
  • Dozens of people are in hospital or shelters due to damage from the wind and rain.
  • The deaths of two people in the Phillipines have been blamed on Vicente as well.

Typhoon Vicente hits China, July 2012. Image courtesy of NASA

Vicente May Cause Severe Flooding in China

Typhoon Vicente is now moving its way into China’s Guangdong province, which will receive up to 20 inches of rainfall from the storm. There is a danger of severe flooding and mudslides due to the intense rain. Over the early part of the week, wind from the weakening Vicente should decrease, since typhoons start to lose power as they move over land. However, rainfall will continue, with Guangdong, Guangxi, and northern Vietnam in the path of the weakening, yet very wet Vicente.


NASA. Typhoon Vicente. (2012). Accessed July 24th, 2012.

Rueters. Severe Typhoon hits Hong Kong, market delays opening. (2012). Accessed July 24, 2012.

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