Super Typhoon Hinnamnor has gradually moved northward to reach waters off South Korea’s southern island of Jeju as the country braces for what could be the most powerful storm ever…
After developing last week into the strongest tropical storm of the year, Typhoon Hinnamnor barreled toward South Korea on Monday, with officials raising the typhoon alert to the highest level ahead of expected landfall on Tuesday.
The powerhouse storm has already unleashed damaging wind and rain, prompting evacuation orders and disrupting transportation in the country’s south, including Busan, South Korea’s second-largest city.
Hinnamnor was packing maximum sustained winds of 127 mph and gusts of up to 155 mph, according to the U.S. Joint Typhoon Warning Center. The Korea Meteorological Administration said strong winds and heavy rain are expected across the country through Tuesday.
No casualties have been reported so far, but at least 11 facilities have been flooded, according to South Korea’s Ministry of the Interior and Safety.
South Korea’s biggest oil refiner SK Innovation Co. suspended crude vessels from entering its Ulsan port and is working on securing backup power supply at the plant, a company spokesman said. GS Caltex Corp. evacuated ships to a safety zone, and LG Chem Ltd. is operating under an emergency response plan with strengthened safety monitoring of its plants in Yeosu and Ulsan.
State-owned Korea Electric Power Corp. was taking measures to ensure a stable supply of electricity. Subsidiary Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co. lowered output at the Kori nuclear plant preemptively to guard against any abrupt disruptions if reactors are directly impacted by Hinnamnor.
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South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol held an emergency meeting over the weekend to discuss the typhoon response. “We are yet to fully recover from damage of the recent downpour and Typhoon Hinnamnor is making its way up, provoking big public concerns,” Yoon told the meeting on Sunday.
The Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters’ emergency response posture was upgraded to the highest level for the first time in five years in terms of the typhoon response.
“It’s a massive typhoon with a 400-kilometer (248.5 miles) radius, which is big enough to cover Seoul to Busan. Most regions in Korea will experience intense rain and wind,” he said.
A series of ferry services and flights were cancelled across the country.
Out of 67 domestic flights leaving the Gimpo International Airport, located just west of Seoul, as of 9 a.m. Monday, 13 had been cancelled, according to airport authorities.
Across the country, a total of 38 domestic flights were cancelled, in addition to 294, according to the Korea Airports Corporation.
The government also recommended schools skip classes or switch to online learning and private companies adjust work hours Tuesday morning, when Hinnamnor is expected to make landfall.
Last month, a record downpour over the country killed more than a dozen people and displaced thousands, many of them in the Seoul area. Recovery efforts are still underway in severely hit areas, where authorities called for extra precautionary measures ahead of the typhoon’s arrival.
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— siva (@PasupathyMano) September 5, 2022
As Hinnamnor neared, North Korea’s weather agency also issued weather warnings, with reports of heavy rain in the capital, Pyongyang, and other parts of the country on Sunday. The regime’s official Rodong Sinmun newspaper on Monday urged damage prevention works to minimize the typhoon’s impact on the economy.
North Korea’s poor infrastructure and widespread poverty make its people particularly vulnerable to climate-induced disasters. The super typhoon could deal a blow to the ailing economy of the isolated country, which is grappling with international sanctions and stalled trade with China because of coronavirus curbs.
Typhoon Hinnamnor, which formed in the western Pacific earlier this month, has also affected Japan. South Korea’s weather agency warned there could be casualties as the nation prepares for the most powerful storm in its history to make landfall early Tuesday. [Business Standard, TWP, Time]