China battens down the hatches, crosses fingers as Typhoon Usagi strikes – Hong Kong officials warn residents of ‘astronomically’ high tides and storm surgePosted by Jim at Saturday, September 21, 2013
By Kenneth Rapoza
21 September 2013
(Forbes) – It’s 08:30 in southeast China. And people from Hong Kong to Shenzhen are bracing for what will likely go down as the strongest storm of 2013.
Typhoon Usagi, called a “monster super storm” by the Washington Post, and the “hell storm” by the Drudge Report is already bringing rain to Taiwan and an eerie calm before the storm in the Guangdong province in China.
Usagi is expected to hit landfall in the next 9 hours, according to the China Meteorological Administration (CMA).
Usagi was centered about 175 kilometers (108 miles) southeast of southern Taiwan with a maximum wind force up to scale 16 (over 120 miles an hour).
CMA forecasts the storm to move to mainland China at speed of 20 kilometers per hour (12 mph) as it approaches the coast of Guangdong state, or province as they are known in China. This is one of the most populated areas in China with over 105 million people living in the province.
Usagi is likely to hit the Guangdong coast Sunday afternoon, and soak the cities there for roughly 12 hours until Monday afternoon. The National Meteorological Center issued a red alert early this morning.
CMA has asked its departments, institutions, and provincial meteorological bureaus of Guangdong, Fujian and the tourist city of Hainan to take immediate emergency measures. Southern Chinese coastal provinces have evacuated residents, canceled air and shipping services.
In other words, Usagi is shaping up to be quite a mess in China, and the biggest weather story in the world this year.
Xinhua news said Sunday morning that China Southern Airlines has cancelled all flights out of Hong Kong on Sunday and will also cancel flights to strike-zone cities of Shantou, Zhuhai and Shenzhen in the Pearl River delta within the next two hours. Local airports are expecting heavy rains and high winds; impossible for commercial travel.
The Baiyun International Airport in Guangzhou, the major port city and capital of Guangdong, issued a yellow alert over the approaching typhoon and stepped up support measures to guarantee safety and deal with emergencies. Provincial authorities have been asking residents to either batten down the hatches or head inland. More than 44,000 fishing boats and 19,000 fishermen have been forced to return to safe harbor, according to media reports.
Guangdong’s neighboring Fujian province evacuated more than 80,000 people in the last 12 hours, Xinhua reported, and deployed over 50,000 disaster-relief personnel.
“Typhoon Usagi is strong and dangerous. It poses quite significant threats to Fujian,” Fujian governor Su Shulin told Xinhua.
Engineers at the Daya Bay nuclear power plant in Guangdong took steps to ensure the installation was secure. The Security Bureau said the government had contingency plans in case of the nuclear plant was damaged, the South China Morning Post reported.
Shipping transport between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan has been at least partially suspended. Major shipping lines from Xiamen City to Kinmen, Taiwan and all lines from Quanzhou City to Kinmen were canceled today.
In Hong Kong, shoppers are clearing supermarkets of bottled water and bread as the city braces for its biggest storm in 30 years. City officials are warning residents of “astronomically” high tides and a storm surge. Usagi will hit Hong Kong by sundown Sunday. City residents have all day to prepare as the clouds roll in from the sea.
The storm passed over the Philippines’ Batanes island chain today. After hitting landfall there, Usagi weakened a bit after reportedly claiming the lives of two people in the Philippines.
“This is the strongest typhoon to hit Batanes (Philippines) in 25 years,” Dina Abad, congresswoman for the Batanes islands, told the South China Morning Post on Sunday. “The howling winds began at midnight and they churned up to eight-meter waves that damaged the port and sank fishing boats.”