In the South China Sea, Typhoon Usagi is flooding the Chinese coast and Hong Kong with 45-foot-tall waves and wind gusts of 150 miles per hour — fast enough to sweep cars off the road. The 109 million inhabitants in Guangdong province can expect to see over 10 inches of rain by Monday afternoon. Already 21 people have been reported dead in the area where Usagi made landfall. Airports, ferries, and train lines have also been completely shut down in the region.
In Taiwan, where Usagi hit on Saturday, more than 3,300 people in flood-prone areas have been evacuated. Over 1,600 soldiers have been deployed to help with relief efforts, with another 24,000 standing by. The northern Phillipines have also been hit with heavy rains, with 250 people evacuated in Tarlac province. So far, only two people are reported drowned and two missing, but recent landslides and floods will likely add to the death toll in coming days.
Experts are saying the typhoon is likely to go down as the strongest weather pattern in the world this year and that climate change may make storms of this magnitude more likely in the near future. A recent report by the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, which reviewed extreme weather events from around the world in 2012, found that events similar to Usagi occurred on five continents and in the Arctic last year.
Lead image © NASA Goddard Photo and Video