Earth’s stongest storm of 2013, packing 160 mph winds, moving toward Hong Kong
Super Typhoon Usagi, the equivalent of a Category 5 Atlantic hurricane, intensified rapidly Thursday in the western Pacific Ocean and will threaten parts of Taiwan, the far northern Philippines and southern China through the next several days.
A tropical cyclone is dubbed a “super typhoon” when maximum sustained winds reach at least 150 mph. Usagi underwent a period of rapid intensification from early Wednesday through midday Thursday (U.S. Eastern time), going from a 55-knot tropical storm to a 140-knot super typhoon in just 33 hours, or just under a 100 mph intensification, based on satellite estimates of intensity.
Usagi is expected to maintain a west-northwest path through the weekend. Here are the potential forecast impacts by location for Usagi:
- Closest approach of center of Usagi: Saturday afternoon, local time.
- The most likely path for the center of Usagi is to pass near the southern tip of Taiwan at that time. This would put Taiwan in the most dangerous eastern semicircle of Usagi.
- Potential impacts: Surge flooding/battering waves (eastern coast especially), damaging winds (particularly southern Taiwan), flooding rain/mudslides (central, eastern Taiwan).
- Local forecast: Taipei
- The center of Usagi will likely pass north of the north coast of Luzon from late Friday into Saturday, local time.
- Potential impacts: Coastal flooding/high surf along the north coast of Luzon, bands of locally heavy rain (trigger flash flooding/mudslides), some wind damage possible.
- Local forecast: Manila
- Closest approach of center of Usagi: Sunday evening/night, local time.
- Current forecast anticipates Usagi will weaken before reaching southern China, but still may be aCategory 1, 2 or 3 equivalent system.
- Potential impacts: These will depend on exact track of Usagi’s center Sunday. It is still too soon to forecast these impacts.
- Local forecast: Hong Kong
Incidentally, Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated places in the world, with over 7.1 million residents, as of a 2012 estimate.
Super Typhoon Usagi
AFP – Super Typhoon Usagi — one of the strongest storms of the year — barrelled towards Hong Kong and southern China on Friday, prompting warnings of fierce winds and torrential rains.
Packing gusts of up to 205 kilometres (127 miles) per hour, the storm is projected to roar between the Philippines and Taiwan before smashing into the southern Chinese coast later in the weekend.
At 0300 GMT Friday it was centred 1,160 kilometres southeast of Hong Kong, officials in the Chinese territory said.
“It is the strongest typhoon in the west Pacific region this year,” a weather forecaster at the Taiwan Central Weather Bureau told AFP.
FLASHBACK: The Great New England Hurricane of 1938
Usagi now a Super Typhoon, strongest storm on earth this year – and it is headed straight for Hong Kong!
This could be doom on a major scale for one of the worlds largest cities.
KONG JUST PRIOR TO TAU 72 AND THEN WEAKEN SIGNIFICANTLY AS IT TRACKS
INLAND, BUT ALONG THE SOUTHERN COAST OF CHINA. DYNAMIC MODEL
GUIDANCE REMAINS IN TIGHT AGREEMENT, THEREFORE, THERE IS HIGH
CONFIDENCE IN THE JTWC FORECAST TRACK.