Super Typhoon Usagi Set to Hit Southern China

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NOAA / Getty Images

In this handout satellite image taken by the Japan Meteorological Agency's MTSAT-2 satellite and provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Super Typhoon Usagi heads west-northwest on Sept. 20, 2013 between the Philippines and Taiwan through the Luzon Strait.

The most powerful storm of the year barreled toward the Chinese mainland on Saturday after slamming the Philippine and Taiwanese shorelines with gale-force winds and torrential rains.

Super Typhoon Usagi’s gusts exceeded 163 mph as it moved west through the Luzon Strait; it made landfall on Saturday in the northern Philippines, leading to landslides and widespread power outages, but so far there have been no reports of casualties. The government in Manila had raised its storm warning to its highest level since 2010, according to the Wall Street Journal. China’s main meteorological service issued a “red alert” as Usagi veered toward southern China, with flood alerts for the crucial global manufacturing center that is the Pearl River Delta in Guangdong province, as well as neighboring Fujian province.

On its current path, the typhoon is set to directly hit the coastal metropolis of Hong Kong, which, blessed with one of the world’s most sophisticated storm preparation systems, is already readying for the worst. Leading regional carrier Cathay Pacific has suspended flights, while the city’s busy port traffic has slowed to a halt. Many businesses are expected to remain closed Monday morning.

The super typhoon’s arrival punctuates the Mid-Autumn Festival holiday for many in Hong Kong and elsewhere China. According to the WSJ, despite the impending dangers of the storm, the popular Tsim Sha Tsui shopping district still bustled with eager customers on Saturday.