As southeast China prepares for Talim, a second storm is brewing

Fujian and Zhejiang brace for what could be strongest typhoon to hit the region this year

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 12 September, 2017, 4:38pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 12 September, 2017, 4:48pm

Fujian has activated its emergency response plan as it braces for what could be the largest typhoon to hit China’s southeast coast this year – and with another tropical depression brewing in the region.

The provincial weather bureau issued an alert on Tuesday, the official Fuzhou Daily reported, as hundreds of thousands of residents were expected to be evacuated from coastal areas before the typhoon makes landfall later on Thursday evening or Friday morning.

With wind speeds that could reach more than 220km/h – equivalent to the category 4 Hurricane Irma in the United States – Talim could be the strongest typhoon seen in the region this year, the weather bureau said.

Hundreds of thousands could be evacuated as ‘giant’ typhoon set to hit southeastern China this week

At 3pm, Talim was less than 800km from northern Taiwan and heading towards mainland China’s coastline at more than 25km/h. It is expected to make landfall in northern Fujian or southern Zhejiang.

Taiwanese weather authorities said on Tuesday that the eye of the storm was likely to skirt the north of the island, the Central News Agency reported. But the authorities warned that the severe weather could cause big waves, threatening vessels in waters off Taiwan.

In the city of Ningde in Fujian, the owner of a seafood restaurant said the evacuation had already begun, with a notice from the government arriving on Tuesday morning.

“I told all of our staff to stop work and head inland. I’ll be leaving myself later today once I’ve packed up and secured the house,” she said, adding there were very few people left in the area.

“There’s a few tourists still lingering at the beach – pretty foolish if you ask us locals. Talim will be a big one. It’s still far away but you can already see the waves getting bigger,” she said.

“We’ve seen super typhoons before. If you stay you risk your life.”

Meanwhile, Guangdong weather authorities said another tropical depression forming in the South China Sea – close to the forecasted track of Talim – could wreak further havoc in the south of the country, Southern Metropolis Daily reported.

If they became twin typhoons they could have a “serious impact” on Guangdong, the authorities warned.

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Liu Aiming, chief engineer at Fujian’s meteorological bureau, said on Monday that evacuation notices could be issued to 400,000 or 500,000 people along the coast, though the exact figure was subject to change as the situation was still evolving.

Most of the people affected live either in properties that might not be able to withstand the high winds, in areas that are prone to flooding or mudslides, or are close to construction sites where they could be hit by flying debris, she said, adding that school buildings and sports stadiums would be used as temporary shelters.

Talim formed east of the Philippines on Saturday and was on course to hit both Fujian and Taiwan, Liu said. It had been steadily gathering strength and by the time it made landfall would most likely have grown into a super typhoon – the highest level in China’s rating system and comparable to a category 4 or 5 hurricane in the United States, she said.

“Talim is a giant. It will dwarf any of the others [typhoons] we’ve seen this year,” she said. If people chose not to leave, they would be forced to do so by inspection teams made up of Communist Party and government officials, she said.