Typhoon Fengshen, TWICE!


I once celebrated New Year’s twice. Once in Manila, then at 6 a.m. on the 1st of January, boarded a plane for New York and somewhere over the Pacific Ocean, the stewardesses popped open bottles of champagne, and we celebrated the same New Year’s again. I thought that was pretty cool. But being practically in the center of the same storm, in two different cities is a bit unusual, don’t you think? Last weekend we were in Manila, and on Sunday morning woke up to a typhoon (international code: Fengshen) raging outdoors. That typhoon had changed courses rather erratically near Boracay, and as we now know, wreaked havoc on ferries at sea (with hundreds still missing), and wiped out farm crops in Central Luzon. The “eye” of that storm probably passed just 10-20 kilometers away from our home. Flights out of Manila were affected all day Sunday. On Monday, in relative calm, we flew to Hong Kong, on a trip planned months ago and using airline points (thus tickets are less flexible). Storm forecasts seemed to “confidently” predict a Northeasterly course that would take Fengshen to Taiwan. So much for storm forecasting…


As I type this, storm signal 8 out of 10 (1,3,8,9,10) is raised in Hong Kong. We are facing the harbor at the moment, and the only visible watercraft are powerful police cutters making their rounds to ensure ships are okay. The palm and other trees are swaying like mad and the force of the rain and wind hitting our hotel windows is amazing. I love watching storms blow through a city and I have been up for two hours mesmerized by Fengshen, AGAIN. The eye of the storm is passing some 40 kilometers away, and wind gusts are being recorded at up to 120 kilometers per hour.


At one point in the morning, this was all I could see out our window. Not a trace of Hong Kong island at all! And a half hour later, in a break to the clouds, fog and storm gusts, a brief glimpse of the skyscrapers in Wanchai across the harbor.


Palm trees whipping around under the onslaught of storm winds. And up top, the view outside the Peninsula Hotel, roads nearly deserted on a mid-week morning. And worse, for visitors to Hong Kong, MOST SHOPS ARE CLOSED THIS MORNING! :(


But I must mention, I have been tracking the storm on the Hong Kong Observatory website, and it beats PAGASA by lightyears. The updates are hourly. The warnings sent out early enough and visible in some public areas like Metros as of last night. And forecast times for the arrival of the storm were quite good. Thankfully, they also predict the storm warnings may be lowered by mid-day today (contrast that with no school last Monday in Manila, and it was quite sunny in some parts of the city) and Hong Kong will return to relative normalcy my early afternoon, albeit in heavy rain…


30 Responses

  1. Hi MM! Until when will you be here?

    Small correction lang po — there are 5 storm signals (1, 3, 8, 9 10) and 10 is the highest on that scale, not 12 ;-)

  2. Hi awi, thanks very much for that, I will correct the post, and yikes, that means this is considered to be quite a strong storm! Just here another day or so.

  3. Good morning MM. I live in Pok Fu Lam and the wind woke me up at 5 AM. Our living room got flooded. Towels are everywhere now trying to soak up rain that got in. You should have seen how it was 2 weeks ago when we had record rain. That didn’t have strong winds with it, but it was a deluge.

    I’ve been watching the Hong Kong Observatory website too. Pretty neat ha?

  4. Hi Juli, gosh, quite a few readers in HK logged in so early in the morning! I hope you dry things up and there isn’t too much damage… stay safe!

  5. Hi MM: There is a website called typhoon2000.com. It the Philippine’s first website that is able to track and give storm warnings. I heard it was pretty good and much more reliable than our walang pagasa, “PAGASA”. :) Of course, it is probably nothing to ocmpared to do the way they do it in HK! :)

  6. with the Internet phenomenon, why is our PAGASA website still clinking off? We were closely monitoring the weather through our pc (with our genset running) since typhoon Fengshen was supposed to hit our island but there was no update! Thank God there was the Japanese website and other international websites for sailing groups.
    With the sinking of the Suplicio liner, all my husband could think of was human error.

  7. Good morning MM, welcome to HK! What a welcome, huh? My hubby and I were out during the really bad rainstorm weeks ago- the one with the record rainfall, the worst in 124 years. We were wading through waist-deep, muddy water. We should have taken pictures then –that was quite an experience! Today is relatively calm compared to that, except for the strong winds, of course. I do hope shops and restos will start to open soon, and bus services return to normal so you can enjoy your trip!

  8. tinsywinsy, yes, I have relied on typhoon2000 for 3-4 years, it is great! ragamuffin girl, I heard it was wild a few weeks ago…

  9. ragamuffin girl i think you are the one being referred by kitty go – the one who recognized her at a bank or atm ??? is that you?

  10. I was right in the eye of the storm last weekend! We were in Aklan-Antique from Friday to Monday. The damage to the province was unbelievable. Centuries old mango tress uprooted, coconut trees cut into half! Grabe taas ng tubig baha. In some places, lampas bubong ng bahay ang tubig. Cars, jeepneys and minibuses were swept by the rampaging floodwater. My friend’s brother tied himself and his family in a mango tree para lang hindi sila matanggay ng tubig. And when the floodwater subsided, most of the streets in Kalibo was submerged in foot high mud. As most people in the area said, they have not experience anything like that before.

  11. i’m reading this post just as the cnn video of typhoon fengshen’s strong winds and rain in hong kong and china shows on tv. our nanny says iloilo, kalibo, aklan and the rest of panay experienced flash floods of the worst kind because of denuded forests.

  12. my sis called me up few days ago telling me about this storm..from the latest news she told me there were people who perished on the typhoon :-) its summer here in france so its hard to imagine that there are people in such bad weather condition..i hope this will be done soon :-(

    ps, are you not scared to take plane when there are typhoon like this Mr. MM?? If its me i already rebook my ticket hehehe

  13. Love reading your entries as I love cooking –mainly experimental, no training at all. Tell me, I wonder if you do lots of experimental stuff which turn superb.

  14. I do hope the weather improved enough for all of you to enjoy your trip. What a waste to have traveled and not taken full advantage of it. Well, at least many of HK’s delights are indoors. It’s not like you went to the beach. :-)

  15. Is that the Peninsula on your first pic?

    Your picture views tell me of a harbour suite at YMCA Salisbury… just a guess though :)

  16. MM, I was in Macau June 16-18. The ferry trip from Macau to HK was a roller coaster ride because of the waves!

    When in HK June 18-20, I tried to look for our favorite Happy Garden Noodle House along Canton Road. It’s gone!

    The white chicken at Taiwan Noodle House is good. Also in Canton Road.

  17. yes, it was really a disaster!
    last weekend,i have been keeping in close touch with my sister whose house is near my house in a beach in pandan, antique.
    a little bit of luck for us, but the whole town is all flooded, as what sonny sj recounts.
    in the evening of sunday they recovered a dead body right in the beach where my house is.
    there were 12 survivors taken to a hospital nearby. apparently crewmembers of a cargo ship.
    since sunday,people in my hometown are eating purefoods tender juicy hotdog from a container van of that cargo ship that capsized.

  18. Hi All,

    My dad use to work for PAGASA in the early 60s and 70s before he left to take up a posting abroad.

    It’s quite sad actually, he was telling me the number of budget cuts that PAGASA has had, its quite amazing that they can track anything at all.

    Hope everyone is well on that side of the world, despite the rain.

  19. Reminds me of a trip my sister and I took to HK in ’99. The weather was dreadful. The airport was closed after our plane landed. My suitcases (and clothes) were soaking wet.

  20. In addtion to Typhoon2000, the hk and japan sites, here’s a link to wave height data that we always use. It is very accurate, especially if you plan to make a trip to the beach, go sailing, take a cruise, use our inter-island ships, or go diving.


    We got this from a US Navy weather site and the wave heights here are so accurate. We even passed this on to Negros Navigation and they’ve been using this since. NN cancelled their trips that fateful day.

  21. Further to that, I’m not sure what weather data Suplicio uses. But I was checking the above link when Typhoon Frank entered the Philippines. The seas last weekend were on the yellow and red mark. I was very surprised to hear that any ship had left port. :-(

  22. Hi, MM.
    My folks were in Hong Kong two weeks ago, and for the first time since the 1980’s, the streets in the NT flooded til waist deep! Downtown Kowloon over where Nathan Rd meets Granville and Cameron Rds was knee to waist deep! I can’t remember the rains being so bad since way back, when we were growing up there. On the island though, where our condo was, we never experienced the floods, though we did get some terrible lashings from the wind. We lived in HK for close to 7 years from the 80’s to early 90s, and the highest I remember was signal 8 (although, as I child, I had a fiendish wish to see a signal 10 raised!)

  23. MM, check out the building lobbies there for those wonderful contraptions that encase wet umbrellas in plastic. neat! hope you get to enjoy the rest of your stay.

  24. leticia,

    Janalinan, Pandan, Antique is exactly where I was last Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

    And yes, we did get to buy some of the hotdogs, sold to us by those who got a lot but cannot store it for long, kasi wala nga electricity. As I gathered from the residents, the container vans where the hotdogs and other stuff was loaded, were thrown into the sea to prevent cargo boat from sinking as it was being pounded by huge waves.

  25. to sonny sj,

    glad to hear from you. this would mean that despite your being right where FRANK hit most, you are back unscratched.

    by the way, my house is at the beach in nauring, pandan, antique. the barangay you come across before jinalinan, that is coming from pandan.

    nice to meet you here at MM’s.

  26. i suppose we were in some luck, despite meeting fengshen twice as well… we flew to HK on Sunday (6:30am flight delayed until 1:30pm via CX – NAIA power outage, very embarrassing to foreigners!) got to HK with beautiful weather and even caught the fireworks at disney on monday night (fireworks canceled on tuesday). flew back home wednesday morning, just as the worst of the typhoon was about to hit HK (9:30am flight was delayed only for an hour due to weather, but the airport was fully functional).

  27. I’m glad we were not badly hit in Sta. Rosa, Laguna. I was awakened around 2:00 am last Sunday wondering who is doing the laundry because the water basins and buckets were moving. Whoah, I went to the patio and saw the basins and buckets moving by themselves due to strong wind.

    Some of our banana trees(?) fell and our duhat tree lost some of its branches. My housemaid from Bicol cooked the very young bananas in coconut milk but since the cooked young banana fruit is not a traditional dessert in Laguna, I was not sure of the taste. I even asked her to cook it using the pressure cooker but she told me it will no longer taste like the Bicol version. Oh yes I picked alot of balimbings and apple mangoes off the ground. Very nice treat.

  28. We were in Manila on the 20th with plans to fly to Boracay for a few days on the 21st. We were staying in a new condo which had no cable TV yet. Lucky for us we had limited WiFi service and was able to watch “Frank” on the computer. So Boracay was out so we stayed in Manila and shopped. At that time the storm was heading west and Manila looked to be out of the way. As I stayed up all night watching the storm change direction we decided to get out of the city. (After the Katrina thing here in the states the last place I wanted to be was in a city when the storm went through.) Our friends loaned us a 4×4 truck and driver. We left the city at 5:30 am with heavy rain and wind blowing 60-70 mph.. What a wild ride!! There was no traffic to speak of so we made good time. By the time we got to Santa Rosa we were behind the storm and things mellowed out. From San Pablo to Lucena the destruction was unbelievable. No banana trees left standing. Streets flooded, power lines and trees laying everywhere. From Lucena to Atimonan was even worse. Now we where seeing collapsed houses and buildings. When we where climbing up the moutain pass there where places completely stripped of vegetation. Even the coconut palms where snapped off. From Antimonan on things got better. By the time we got to Calauag it was hard to tell that a storm had went through other than no power. On thing that amazed me during our drive was the locals. The storm had only passed hours ago, the sun had just came up and they where all smiles, hard at work cleaning up the highway and picking up all the fruit which was laying about. We stayed in Calauag until the 25th and only had power the last few hours we where there. Drove back to Manila on the 25th and it was amazing how much had been cleaned up. Roofs repaired, streets swept and for the most part back to normal. We flew to HK early on the 26th.. The storm had already passed but it was still raining hard and the wind blowing. The landing was a little bumpy. Out plane to the U.S. was delay by a few hours because of “Frank”. When we finally left HK is was another bumpy ride for a while as we flew over “Frank”. This was my first trip to PI and it was amazing. I experienced so many new things in 3 weeks. I even got to observe a cyclone when I was in Quezon, Quezon. What a trip we had. I have some 7 hours of video I need to start working on editing now.



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