Severe weather across eastern Asia

  • NASA's MODIS satellite captures Typhoon Soulik as it approaches Taiwan and mainland China. (Image courtesy of NASA).

    The MODIS satellite image of Tropical Storm Cimaron, a less organised system than Soulik. (Image courtesy of NASA).

    An infrared satellite image from NASA of Tropical Storm Cimaron. The purple colours show areas of intense convection where high rainfall is likely. (Image courtesy of NASA).

  • Severe weather across eastern Asia
    20.07.2013 13:17

    As the warm, dry weather continued across the UK these past couple of weeks, parts of China, the Korean Peninsula and Japan have been experiencing some extreme weather themselves.

    With severe flooding already across parts of northern India due to the monsoon, large areas of Asia are suffering from heavy and prolonged spells of rain. Just last week, Typhoon Soulik made landfall in Taiwan bringing heavy rain and strong winds that resulted in 3 fatalities, 104 injuries and power cuts to 520,000 homes in and around Taipei, the capital city. Soulik then headed north-west towards the Chinese mainland. So severe was the threat of the typhoon that around 300,000 people were evacuated from the Guangdong province. The Chinese National Meteorological Centre then downgraded the Typhoon to Tropical Storm status before it dissipated entirely.

    Following the downgrading and eventual diminishing of Soulik, another storm was already brewing in the warm waters of the western Pacific that moved north-eastwards towards eastern China. Warm sea surface temperature is one of the most significant factors in typhoon (or hurricane) development with a sustained temperature of around 28 Celsius for several meters depth required to fuel these powerful storms. A combination of ocean and atmospheric factors (namely the El Nino Southern Oscillation) contrive to make the waters of the western Pacific some of the warmest on Earth and therefore make for an ideal location for typhoon/tropical storm development. Tropical Storm Cimaron, the eighth tropical storm to hit China this year, made landfall on Thursday night in eastern China with heavy rain and wind speeds of up to 72km/hr. Cimaron then began to weaken over the course of this weekend due to the loss of its main heat source, the warm underlying ocean. However, parts of the city of Zhangzhou experienced flooding with 200mm falling that caused wide scale disruption.

    Elsewhere in Asia

    Across the Korean Peninsula, heavy rains have caused fatalities and widespread damage to infrastructure in both the North and the South. In South Korea, 400mm of rain fell in just 24 hours causing landslides near the capital of Seoul that killed 32 people. In North Korea, the number of fatalities is more uncertain but preliminary reports suggest that 2 have died and hundreds left homeless.

    Earlier in the week in northern Japan, heavy rain caused much disruption with one measuring site in the Tohuku region recording 249mm in 24 hours.

    By: Seán Penston