Hong Kong and southern China hunkered down today as Typhoon Nida swirled towards the region, with hundreds of flights cancelled, schools closed and ferries halted.
Hong Kong raised a "T8" storm signal, the third-highest, today evening as the storm edged closer to the semi-autonomous Chinese city, packing winds of 130 kilometres (81 miles) per hour.
Guangzhou, the capital of neighbouring Guangdong province where Nida was expected to make landfall on Tuesday, issued its first-ever red storm alert, with schools and outdoor work suspended.
Cathay Pacific and its subsidiary Dragonair cancelled all of their flights in and out of Hong Kong for 16 hours, from 10 pm Monday until 2 pm Tuesday. That will include more than 100 flights, said a spokeswoman for Cathay, the city's flag carrier.
Hong Kong authorities shut kindergartens and special needs learning institutions on Monday. Ferries between Hong Kong and the gambling strip of Cotai in Macau have been suspended.
"Local winds are expected to strengthen significantly around dusk," said a weather bulletin. "There will be squalls, heavy rain and rough seas after sunset. There may be flooding in low-lying areas."
Those living in the storm's projected path when it reaches mainland China have been told to prepare three days' worth of food and other essentials, Xinhua news agency reported, citing the National Commission for Disaster reduction.
The cities of Zhuhai and Shanwei in Guangdong province have also issued red alerts, while nearby Shenzhen has issued a yellow one, the third most severe.
More than 220 flights out of Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Zhuhai airports would be cancelled before the storm passed over Tuesday, the Sohu news portal said. Nearly 2,000 workers constructing the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge were evacuated Monday morning, and more than 2,000 others working on an offshore oil platform were relocated Sunday evening, Xinhua said.
Nida brought strong winds and torrential rains to the northern Philippines over the weekend.
Southern China has been hard-hit by storms this summer. Super Typhoon Nepartak brought chaos to Taiwan in July and left at least 69 dead once it made landfall in the mainland's eastern province of Fujian, despite having been downgraded to a tropical storm.