Social Media as News Source: Typhoon #10 Lashes Hong Kong

Typhoon Damage in Hong Kong from InstaGram

Tropical Storm Vicente took a right turn yesterday afternoon. This seasonal storm was due to side step Hong Kong and pass over the coast of Guangdong Province, China. Instead it got stuck in the South China Sea then took a right hand turn. It hit Hong Kong almost head-on.

Track of Tropical Storm Vicente – From Hong Kong Observatory

At 6:00 pm on Monday, 23 July the #8 Typhoon Flag was raised. This is an interim announcement as part f the government’s expertly developed public awareness effort. (Flag #1 means a tropical storm is in the vicinity; #3 means it can be felt here.) At a #8 flag businesses shut and all private vehicles must be off the road. Should you have an accident when the #8 flag is raised your insurance does not cover the damage.

And while the city was pounded during the course of the evening, just after midnight the #10 flag was raised for the first time since 1999. This is the most severe storm warning.  It was lowered by 6:00 am. Later in the morning the worst of the storm had passed, even if the #8 wasn’t lowered until after 10:00 am.

The #10 Typhoon that hit Hong Kong gives a perfect example of how social media is supplementing and replacing traditional news media sources. Updates of the storm’s progress were available on Twitter – check out the hashtag #Typhoon.

Typhoon on Twitter

This morning first-hand photos of the aftermath are flooding InstaGram and Facebook, like the one of the mini-bus at the top of this post. YouTube has dozens of videos ranging from the typhoon passing someone’s apartment to a 2:00 am road trip to McDonald’s in the midst of the most severe storm in over a decade.

The other benefit is the immediacy. We’re seeing photos just after they’re taken. We experience the national aftermath – and the state of roads near our homes. On Facebook I am a member of “Bayside Villagers” which is for people residing in the Clearwater Bay area. Local resident and proprietor at “Wine ‘N Things” posted detailed photos of their arduous commute to work today.

Getting to Work – From Facebook

With such a strong public information system in place, no deaths were reported from last night’s typhoon. Some 50 were injured. The man who ran for McDonald’s at 2:00 am during the #10 signal remains well.

Typhoon Aftermath – From InstaGram

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