Typhoon Hinnamnor threatens catastrophic damage in South Korea
- The nation is preparing for the strongest storm it has ever seen, forecast to be worse than 1959’s Typhoon Sarah, which killed more than 600 people
- Weather analyst Woo Jin Kyu ‘extremely’ worried as ‘damage may be beyond expectations’; preparations also under way in China’s coastal areas
South Korea is bracing for the strongest storm in the nation’s history with Super Typhoon Hinnamnor forecast to hammer its southern coastal areas next week.
The worst of the typhoon is forecast for Monday or Tuesday when the weather system is expected to pound the resort island of Jeju and batter southern coastal cities including Busan and Ulsan, with landfall expected on Tuesday.
“We’ve never encountered a typhoon with this level of atmospheric pressure before, which is extremely worrisome because the degree of damage may be beyond our expectation,” said Woo Jin Kyu, a weather analyst from the Korea Meteorological Administration, during a briefing on Friday.
That storm killed more than 600 people and injured 2,533, and caused 249 billion won (US$180 million) of property damage, according to the National Archives of Korea.
The super typhoon was heading north-northwest some 500km east off the coast of Taiwan as of 9am Seoul time.
The storm has slowed in recent days and is currently packing sustained winds of about 175km (109 miles) per hour with gusts of around 132mph, according to the US Joint Typhoon Warning Center.
State-owned utility Korea Electric Power Corp. said it has issued a warning as the typhoon may disrupt the nation’s power transmission facilities and equipment, while staff at Korea Southern Power Co. are being placed on an emergency roster.
Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co. is also taking safety measures to minimise the impact on nuclear reactors that are densely located in the southeastern part of the country.
South Gyeongsang province, near Busan, said all of its schools will switch to virtual classes on Tuesday. China’s coastal provinces have also taken steps, with preparations to halt schools, factories, businesses and transport as needed.
Ships in the region are currently adjusting to the typhoon’s movements, with many vessels taking detours. So far that has not caused delays, although ships are increasing the amount of fuel being consumed, according to shipowners.
Japanese airline ANA Holdings Inc. said a total of 42 flights to and from the Okinawa region have been cancelled between Friday and Sunday due to the typhoon.