The Hong Kong Observatory issued the first typhoon signal number 8 at 5:20pm on Monday as Tropical Cyclone Merbok approaches Hong Kong, the public broadcaster RTHK reported.

Based on the current forecast track, Merbok is expected to make landfall within 50 kilometers of Hong Kong around midnight.

Gale or storm force winds are expected to affect parts of the territory overnight, according to the Hong Kong Observatory, blowing generally near sea level with a sustained wind speed of 63-117 km per hour from the quarter indicated. Gusts may exceed 180 kilometers per hour, and such wind condition is expected to persist.

At 5pm, Merbok was estimated to be about 90 kilometers south-southeast of Hong Kong, and was forecast to move north-northwest at about 20 kilometers per hour towards the Pearl River Estuary.

The strong wind signal No 3 had been hoisted since 10:40am Monday.