By NICK BRAMANTE
On Sept. 22, 2013, a devastating and powerful storm by the name “Usagi” pounded China’s coasts with violent winds, relentless waves, and downpours. The first actual land to be hit was southern China, near Hong Kong. Along the coast, cars were swept off roads, houses collapsed, and the typhoon ravaged the coast line.
Usagi itself was actually classified as a “super typhoon.” This is a term used by the U.S Joint Typhoon Warning Center, for typhoons that “reach maximum sustained 1-minute surface winds of at least 65 m/s (130 kt, 150 mph).” To put the power of this storm in perspective, 2012’s Hurricane Sandy had winds only around 80 miles per hour, putting Usagi at nearly twice the wind speed of 2012’s most deadly hurricane.
Usagi leveled homes and ripped up architecture in its destructive path. Estimated in nearly $1.16 billion U.S. dollars in economic losses, the storm wiped out almost 8,500 homes, and forced nearly 80,000 people to abandon their homes and find safety further inland. China’s National Meteorological Center had to issue its highest-danger alert. At least 50,000 relief workers were deployed in order to help those affected by the storm.
Trees were toppled, and major power lines were cut in coastal Fujian, leaving about 170,000 households without power.
In the Province of Guangdong (population 105 million), there were 25 deaths, caused by a variety of hazards from the storm. Some of these risks include flying debris, drowning in floods, landslides, and collapse of buildings. Nearly 370 flights were either canceled or delayed because of the storm, as sustained winds up to 109 mph hammered all in Usagi’s path.
One of the most densely populated areas in China, Hong Kong was the major concern for many officials before the storm had hit. Early warning systems and preparation was able to surprisingly save the city from any casualties, although there were injuries in relatively small numbers compared to the amount of people living in Hong Kong (over seven million).
Usagi had caused China to raise its alarm to the highest it has had to since 2010, according to the Wall Street Journal. Rainfall was estimated to up to 10 inches in some places. Many photographers in the area were able to capture images of storm surges that produced waves up to 20 feet tall, showing the pure strength of the super typhoon.
Fortunately, Usagi did lose some of its strength before finally making landfall in mainland China and was never able to regain the strength once on land. This still proved to be a very impressive, very deadly typhoon.