Hong Kong warned residents to stay indoors and halted public transport Monday as Typhoon Vicente skirted the island, packing winds in excess of 140 kilometres (87 miles) an hour.
At least 34 people were injured in the extreme weather as authorities raised the typhoon warning to ten -- the most severe level -- for the first time in three years just after midnight.
Officials said the tropical storm was moving at 20 kilometres an hour toward the southern Chinese coast and would pass 100 kilometres southwest of Hong Kong overnight.
"In the past few hours, Vicente intensified rapidly into a severe typhoon and moved in a more northerly direction, edging closer to Hong Kong," the Hong Kong Observatory said in a statement.
"Parts of the territory is already affected by storm force winds," it added.
Over 100 trees fell and pieces of buildings were seen crashing into downtown streets as commuters made their way home from work. Many were forced to walk through the wind and rain due to shortages of public transport.
Ferry, bus and train services were suspended or ran at reduced capacity, the port was closed and 15 passenger flights to the regional aviation hub were cancelled as the storm approached. More than 210 flights were delayed.
School classes and hospital outpatient clinics were suspended until further notice.