Typhoon Hato, the strongest storm to descend on Hong Kong in five years, killed at least three people and forced the Asia financial center to close offices and schools Wednesday, cancel hundreds of flights and left streets flooded, uprooted trees and smashed windows in its wake.
Local weather authorities designated Hato a category 10 storm. It bore down on the city with maximum sustained winds of 78 miles per hour and gusts of up to 129 mph. Hong Kong last experienced a storm of Hato's strength in 2012, with Typhoon Vicente.
A category 10 storm in Hong Kong is roughly equivalent to a category 3 hurricane on the Saffir–Simpson hurricane wind scale widely used in the Western Hemisphere.
Hato's destructive winds forced most businesses and government offices to close. It also shut courts and the stock market, leaving skyscrapers dark and empty, and the financial hub's normally bustling streets eerily quiet. Low-lying areas flooded and large waves surged over sea-front promenades swamping some buildings and vehicles.
Airlines canceled 450 flights and ferry operators halted commuter services and routes to the nearby Chinese gambling center of Macau. Hato was headed toward the western side of mainland China’s Pearl River Delta, a densely populated area.