In an anticipatory response to the impending threat of Typhoon Saola, the numerous gaming properties in Macau were temporarily shut. Expecting extreme wind levels and heavy rainfalls between Friday night and Saturday, the Chinese region took substantial measures to weather this storm. A foreshadowing incident saw a woman’s umbrella in the neighboring city, Hong Kong, being wind-tossed about, hinting at the storm’s scale.
Located off the South China Sea, Macau is particularly susceptible to flooding and potent tidal waves. The precautionary closures of the gaming properties were scheduled for 11 p.m. local time on Friday, with no definitive information disclosed on when they would resume operations.
A crucial aspect of Macau’s economy, the casinos have shown remarkable resilience post the COVID-19 pandemic. Particularly in July, the revenue of Macau casinos soared past the $2 billion mark, recording a single month’s prosperity since the pandemic’s inception.
Such calculated closures to about 36 casinos in the region only represented a fraction of the broad safety measures enforced by the government during this week, gearing up for the turbulent weather conditions.
Typhoon Saola heavily disrupted transportation activities across various Chinese areas, leading to the cancellation of train services and flights. While some train services were rumored to resume by Saturday night, border crossings between Macau and Zhuhai in Guangdong Province would remain closed until the passing of the storm. Furthermore, the shuttle bus service on the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge was temporary halted.
Local ferry services, particularly between Hong Kong and Macau, were suspended as of Thursday. The cyclone also led to the cancellation of the ferry service connecting Macau’s Inner Harbor and the Wan Zai district in Zhuhai, China, as well as between Macau and Shenzhen, China.
The imminent disaster led to the cancellation of classes and the universal advice of ‘homestaying’ to many workers as safety precautions. The typhoon also put a stop to Hong Kong’s stock market trading due to the harsh conditions.
Recent forecasts have led to China raising the highest alert, known as a ‘red warning’, in some affected areas. Local meteorologists anticipate violent winds, up to a speed of 209 km per hour or 129.9 miles per hour, albeit potentially lesser in Macau.
The typhoon was slated to hit China’s coast by the end of the week, affecting areas between Huilai County in Guangdong and Hong Kong. Consequently, storm surges are expected, with a heightened risk of flooding in low-lying coastal regions.
The storm is expected to unload its harshest effects on Hong Kong and Guangdong Province. Upon making landfall, it is projected to diminish in intensity.
Only just this Friday, the provinces of Fujian and Guangdong were projected to receive rainfall between 3.9 to 8.7 inches at certain points.
Before reaching China, Typhoon Saola had already swept across the Philippines, wreaking havoc in the northern part of the country, flooding villages. Around 50,000 residents were considerably affected, with roughly 35,000 resorting to temporary shelters as their homes were damaged by the ruthless wind, rain, and flooding, also leading to the suspension of ferry services.
Just the previous month, China was hit by Typhoon Doksuri, which stimulated an exodus of more than 30,000 residents from Beijing and caused serious flooding in numerous parts of the nation.