TAIPEI - The Central Weather Bureau (CWB) last night upgraded Typhoon Usagi from a medium-strength storm to a super typhoon.
The bureau also issued a sea warning as Usagi continued to grow in strength and accelerate toward Taiwan.
The bureau was originally scheduled to issue a sea warning early today.
As of 8 a.m. yesterday, Usagi was situated some 990 km southeast of the southernmost tip of Taiwan and moving briskly in a west-northwesterly direction at 14 to 18 kph, packing maximum sustained winds of 144 kph with gusts of up to 180 kph, according to the bureau.
Typhoon Usagi is bringing winds rated at level 7 on the Beaufort scale, with its diameter spanning 220 km.
On its current path, Usagi will continue its approach toward Southern Taiwan and could make landfall on the Hengchun Peninsula by Saturday evening, the CWB stated in an alert to residents in southern and southeastern parts of the country.
A land warning is likely to be issued by noon today for Usagi, the 19th storm of the 2013 Pacific typhoon season, the weather bureau said.
Yesterday marked the beginning of the Mid-Autumn Festival, with mild weather, cooler temperatures and light drizzle reported throughout Taiwan.
The weather, however, may turn inclement as Usagi approaches and possibly makes landfall. Temperatures could hit a low of 23 to 26 degrees Celsius during evening and early morning hours in Northern Taiwan.