Severe Typhoon Usagi has all the hallmarks of becoming Hong Kong’s strongest storm in 34 years.
It is expected to make landfall later on tonight as current estimates predict bringing current maximum sustained wind speeds at the eye of 165km/h onshore.
The Hong Kong Observatory raised the T8 storm signal as the typhoon is expected to pass within 100 kilometres of Hong Kong.
Dubbed a “monster storm” by weather experts in America as it reached super typhoon status with gusts of up to 209km/h, Usagi will not be less forgiving when it slams into the territory.
Not since Super Typhoon Hope on August 2, 1979, has the territory been rammed so hard by the sheer force of Mother Nature.
Typhoon Hope brought gusts reaching 230km/h onshore. It killed 12 people and injured 260 more as it swept from east to west across the New Territories.
Hope ranked as a No 10 typhoon signal storm, the highest rank only given to storms with the eye passing over or close to Hong Kong.
Just like Typhoon Vicente in August last year, it was the first No 10 signal to be hoisted since 1999.
The ferocity of Typhoon Rose on August 17, 1971 was a precursor in size and scope to Hope, which previously held the titles of most intense and violent typhoons to batter south China and claimed the lives of 110 people and 300 casualties.
At the eye of the storm, Rose measured at 185km/h while gusts topped 220km/h at its peak.
Before that, Typhoon Wanda on September 1, 1962, claimed 138 lives, while 34 people went missing and more than 130 were injured. The typhoon made more than 70,000 people homeless.
At its height, gusts inside Victoria Harbour reached 259km/h while winds reached 284km/h at Tate’s Cairn.
In more recent times, superstorm Sandy with hurricane force winds reaching 144km/h slammed the east coast of America in October last year, and was said to have left more than US$65 billion (HK$504 billion) worth of damage across the country.
The winds of Usagi, powerful enough to topple an adult, the rising waters brought on by a combination of an “astronomical” high tide and a strong storm surge threaten to wreak havoc on land and people in the most exposed parts of the city.
Just as the Hong Kong Observatory hoisted the No 3 typhoon signal at 11.40pm yesterday, it warned people in low-lying areas to take special precautions.
As the worst storm of the year bears down on Hong Kong, the city is bracing itself for maximum impact.