China, Hong Kong, Taiwan Brace as Year’s Strongest Storm Looms

By Chinmei Sung | September 20, 2013

East Asian meteorological authorities issued warnings as tropical cyclone Usagi, the world’s strongest storm this year, barreled toward the southern coast of China.

Usagi, upgraded to a super typhoon yesterday by the China Meteorological Administration, is expected to affect Taiwan, Hong Kong and China before making landfall on Sept. 23, officials said.

Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau issued land and sea warnings, advising people to avoid outdoor activities as the storm gets closer to the island’s southeast.

With wind gusts as strong as 245 kilometers (152 miles) an hour, the eye of Usagi was about 460 kilometers east-southeast off Taiwan’s southern tip at 1:15 p.m. local time today, the bureau said in a statement on its website. The storm was heading north-northwest at 18 kilometers per hour, it said.

Usagi is the biggest tropical storm globally this year by wind speed, Cheng Ming-Dean, director of Taiwan’s weather bureau forecast center, said by phone from Taipei today. The cyclone is expected to hit the coastal region of the southern Guangdong province on Sept. 23, the Xinhua News Agency reported today, citing China’s National Meteorological Center.

China on Sept. 19 initiated a level 3 emergency response to handle the oncoming storm, according to the China Meteorological Administration.

Super Typhoon

Usagi was upgraded to a super typhoon yesterday at 5 p.m. local time, according to the China Meteorological Administration. A super typhoon is the most intense tropical cyclone on the scale, with a maximum sustained wind speed reaching 185 kilometers per hour or more, according to the Hong Kong Observatory.


Usagi will “pose a threat to Hong Kong” when it gets closer to the coast on Sunday, according to the city’s Observatory.

The storm has already affected parts of the Philippines. A total of 242 people from 69 families fled their homes on Sept. 18 due to flooding and were staying in temporary shelters in the northern Philippines, the country’s disaster agency said on its website.

An average of seven typhoons are monitored by Taiwan authorities every year, with the greatest frequency between the months of July and September, according to data from Taiwan’s weather bureau. Usagi would be the fourth typhoon to hit Taiwan this year, it said.

A sea alert warning people against seashore activities was issued this morning, followed by a land alert that cautions people about possible flooding, falling rocks and mudslides.

(With assistance from Zhang Shidong in Shanghai and Benjamin Haas in Hong Kong. Editors: Neil Western, Stanley James)

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