HK issues Typhoon Signal No 1 as Usagi approaches
The Hong Kong Observatory issued the Typhoon Signal No 1 on Saturday morning as Super-Typhoon Usagi approached the territory.
The observatory said on its website that the tropical cyclone was now centred within about 800 kilometres of Hong Kong.
“At 1pm, Super Typhoon Usagi was estimated to be about 730km east-southeast of Hong Kong [near 20.8 degrees north 121.0 degrees east] and is forecast to move west-northwest at about 18km per hour across the Luzon Strait, entering the South China Sea,” the observatory said.
The observatory said it might have to issue the Strong Wind Signal No 3 on Saturday night or Sunday morning.
It said Usagi could become the strongest storm to affect Hong Kong in 2013.
Weather conditions were likely to worsen on Sunday with stronger winds and rougher seas.
Usagi brought torrential rain and strong winds to the Philippines and Taiwan on Saturday, uprooting trees and knocking out power as it barrelled towards Hong Kong.
The typhoon battered the Batanes island group in the far north of the Philippines overnight with gusts of up to 250km per hour, affecting communication lines and damaging crops, officials said.
“The winds are very strong. I cannot even go out now,” Batanes governor Vicente Gato told DZBB radio in Manila. “Many trees have been uprooted and we have no electricity,” he said.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Center issued its highest alert, with flooding recorded in four regions of the main island of Luzon, the country’s most populous area, while several roads and bridges were rendered impassable by overflowing rivers or landslides.
There were no immediate reports of any casualties, although emergency and relief services said they were prepared for the worst with more than 100 families having already been evacuated in one northern province.
In Taiwan, some flights were cancelled and ferry services suspended, with schools and offices in many parts of the island closed, especially in the south and east, which were expected to bear the brunt of the storm, authorities said.
Hotels and resorts in mountainous areas were closed due to fears of flooding and landslides.
Coastguards cordoned off the beaches at Kenting, a popular scenic spot in the south, as strong winds whipped up the sea.
The defence ministry has deployed more than 1,600 soldiers to “high risk” areas and placed 24,000 others on standby.
Nearly 2,500 people had already been evacuated, officials said, as the Central Weather Bureau warned people to expect up to 1.2 metres of rain.
The US Navy’s Joint Typhoon Warning Center said that Usagi was packing sustained winds of 240km per hour with gusts of nearly 300km per hour, making it the equivalent of a strong category four Atlantic hurricane.