A powerful typhoon hovers close to Taiwan, the Philippines, and Hong Kong preparing for a disastrous impact. This super typhoon named Usagi began was a tropical storm, but has rapidly grown to a category five hurricane which is the highest level.
In the last 24 hours, a cyclone in the west Pacific has explosively intensified, and is on a track towards Hong Kong.
The storm – named Usagi – has achieved super typhoon status, after an amazing burst in its peak winds from 75 mph Tuesday to over 160 mph today. (Typhoons become “super typhoons” if their peak winds reach 150 mph or higher). It is now equivalent to a category 5 hurricane.
According to Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, level five states: high percentage of homes will be destroyed, fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas, power outages will last for weeks to possibly months. The hurricane transitioned from tropical storm in less than a day which has been identified as the one of the fastest intensification rates recorded, as Quartz reports.
Usagi is not the strongest typhoon to date. As the China Post reports, based on Central Weather Bureau data, Typhoon Nancy, which struck in 1961, was the most powerful storm ever to affect Taiwan, with maximum sustained winds of 360 kph and a radius of 650 km. There were also five other typhoons throughout Taiwan’s history with maximum sustained winds of 270 kph as the data reports. According to CNN, Super Typhoon Usagi is up to 260 kilometers per hour (162 mph). Based on the data gathered by the Central Weather Bureau, super typhoons are common throughout Taiwan. In the case of Usagi, possibly making the natural disaster more manageable for Taiwan’s residents.
This storm is not stopping at Taiwan. It is expected to travel northwest toward the South China coast, where it is predicted to make landfall near the populated city of Hong Kong on Sunday, as CNN reports.
“It is the strongest typhoon in the west Pacific region this year,” a weather forecaster at the Taiwan Central Weather Bureau said. "Usagi is this year's most powerful tropical storm by wind speed anywhere in the world," Cheng Ming-Dean, director of Taiwan’s Weather Bureau added.
According to South China Morning Post, China's state news agency Xinhua reported a "yellow alert" as the storm approaches. China's State Oceanic Administration has issued a class I emergency response for the typhoon, its highest maritime disaster response level, as BBC reports.
Because typhoons are common during the summer in parts of East Asia, the hope is that relief organizations are more prepared to aid disaster-ridden communities.