September 20, 2013 – TAIWAN – 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. –The Weather Channel
Monster Storm: The strongest storm on the planet so far this year is rumbling across the Western Pacific near Taiwan and the Philippines, prompting authorities to issue warnings to residents in vulnerable areas. Packing winds as strong as 260 kilometers per hour (162 mph) on Friday, Super Typhoon Usagi is forecast to plow through the Luzon Strait that lies between Taiwan and the Philippines on Saturday. The storm is then expected to weaken to become a severe typhoon as it heads northwest toward the South China coast, where it is predicted to make landfall near the densely populated city of Hong Kong on Sunday. Usagi’s current wind strength makes it equivalent in power to a Category 5 hurricane. The overall storm system measures more than 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) across. “It’s an incredible storm system,” said Pedram Javaheri, a meteorologist for CNN International.
As the typhoon moves across the sea, it is estimated to be generating waves as high as about 15 meters (50 feet). Its outer bands have already brought rain to the northern Philippines, where authorities have issued storm warnings for more than 15 provinces. The local weather agency, Pagasa, said residents in mountainous and low-lying areas should beware of possible flash floods and landslides. The lightly populated Batanes Islands — situated right in the middle of the Luzon Strait, and the storm’s path — are the area the most at risk from potentially devastating winds, the agency said. Usagi is expected to come closest to Taiwan on Saturday. The Central Weather Bureau issued a typhoon warning for the island, with heavy rain predicted, particularly in the east. “If you’re on the east coast of Taiwan, you’ve certainly got to take this storm very seriously,” Javaheri said. Usagi could dump more than one meter (3 feet) of rain on the area over the coming days, he said. –CNN