Super Typhoon Usagi barrels toward Taiwan, Philippines

This picture taken on August 22, 2013 shows onlookers being washed away from huge waves from the "Haining tide" as the waves surged higher than usual due to the influence of Typhoon Trami in the region in Haining, in eastern China's Zhejiang province.

Packing wind speeds of up to 184 miles per hour, Super Typhoon Usagi is barreling towards the Philippines, Taiwan and China where authorities have warned residents to prepare for torrential rains and destructive winds.

Usagi is the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane and meteorologists said it could be the most powerful typhoon of 2013.

Northern coastal villages in the Philippines have now been evacuated, while ferry services have also been suspended and fishing boats have been called to shore.

Late Friday, Usagi had maximum sustained winds of 150 mph and was about 373 miles southeast of the Taiwanese capital Taipei.

The super typhoon was expected to skirt the northernmost islands of the Philippines and the southern tip of Taiwan before making landfall in southern China over the weekend.

Authorities have issued alerts for torrential rain, flash flooding, landslides and destructive gusts.

"It is the strongest typhoon in the west Pacific region this year," a weather forecaster at the Taiwan Central Weather Bureau told Agence France-Presse.

Chinese officials have issued a “yellow” alert, which is the third-highest on the country’s four-tier warning system.

Usagi is expected to smash into the southeastern coast between Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and Fujian province on Sunday evening.

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