Meteorologists are calling Typhoon Usagi the strongest storm of 2013. One of the most powerful typhoons to hit Southeast Asia in decades, Usagi left a path of destruction, claiming dozens of lives and thousands of homes across several countries. At least 50 people have been killed, many falling victim to large-scale mudslides and extensive flooding resulting from torrential monsoons following the powerful Pacific tropical storm.
Usagi – which means “rabbit” in Japanese — was designated a “super typhoon” as peak winds reached 150 mph. The storm passed between the Philippines and Taiwan on Saturday as it moved toward China’s mainland. Although it weakened on Sunday, winds clocked in at 100 mph per hour when it hit land in the southeast coastal providence of Shanwei at 7:40 p.m. on Sunday.
Super Typhoon Usagi spanned about 700 miles – roughly the distance between Chicago and Washington, D.C.!
At its peak strength, the storm also carried sustained winds over 135 miles per hour and gusts reaching over 155 miles per hour! Winds of this magnitude are present in Category 4 and 5 storms in the Atlantic Ocean. Waves over 45 feet high were reported.
Typhoon Usagi turned slightly toward the north, sparing Hong Kong’s population of 7 million from its wrath. The megacity saw some tropical storm conditions. Four inches of rain fell and wind gusts reached 50 miles per hour.
Along the coast in China’s Guangdong province, however, the storm and its aftermath took an extreme toll. State news agencies reported major destruction and impacts:
• Around 5.5 million people have been affected and 310,000 displaced by the storm.
• More than 8,400 houses have been destroyed
• More than 125,000 acres of cropland have been damaged.
• Direct economic loses total more than $1 billion (U.S. dollars).
Heavy monsoon rains are taking their toll across Vietnam and Cambodia as well, where dozens have fallen victim to massive floods.
Even though Usagi is the strongest storm of 2013 to date, we have more than three months to go in the year to see what Mother Nature has in store. Our thoughts are with everyone impacted by Typhoon Usagi!
Stay Safe. Know Before™.
-The WeatherBug – Earth Networks Team