Strongest Typhoon In Fifty Years Strikes China

Approximately 1.3 million peopled were evacuated out of the way of Typhoon Saomai, which had been a Super Typhoon on the order of a Category Five Hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale, and made landfall as the strongest typhoon in fifty years to hit the Communist nation. Saomai, which came ashore with 135 mph winds at the locale of Mazhan in the province of Zhejiang on the Southeastern coast of China to the west of Taiwan.

The latest in a series of eight typhoons and tropical storms to affect the People’s Republic of China in what has been an usually violent typhoon season even by Western Pacific standards. Several weeks ago, Tropical Storm Bilis killed approximately six hundred people in the same location. Last week, Typhoon Prapiroon pounded the Southen coast of China leaving another eight people dead. According to the Chinese news agency, Xinuha, at least two people have died, eight more were injured, and 1,000 homes were damaged or destroyed in the area around Mazhan. Saomai, which was declared by the local weather bureau in China as the worst typhoon to strike the country since the Communist revolution of 1949, also wreaked havoc in Japan, where 141 flights were cancelled due to 89 mph winds that affected the Okinawa island chain.

Forecasts out of the Far East earlier this year warned that this would be an active and very dangerous typhoon season. Pacific currents including the second biggest warm water current in the world, the Kuroshio Current have been warmer than normal for this time of year. As a matter of fact, the Eastern Pacific has also been dealing with above average sea surface temperatures, which has spawned more named storms, hurricanes, and major hurricanes than in the Atlantic, which is off to a much slower start than last year although it is still presently on an above average pace. In addition, weather patterns in the Tibetan Highlands, which has an elevated tropopause that is a factor in the monsoonal pattern across the Indian subcontinent, also were anticipated to play a role in creating more powerful storms and bringing them into the Chinese mainland.

Is this further evidence that a new El Nino episode is beginning to emerge across the planet? It is quite possible. Recent Atlantic Hurricane forecasts, particularly one issued by a forecaster for the Weather Service Corporation, which originally did weather products for America Online back in the 1990s, indicated that a developing El Nino along with cooler sea surface temperatures, were going to keep activity down from last year’s record breaking season, and even below earlier projections given out this year. Within about a week, both Dr. William Gray of Colorado State, and NOAA came out with revised forecasts stating that the overall season numbers were going to be below what was earlier anticipated. Decreased activity in the Atlantic is an indicator of an El Nino event.


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4 responses to “Strongest Typhoon In Fifty Years Strikes China”

  1. […] Next, look at the Western Pacific. Like the EastPAC, the WestPAC has seen its share of storms. So far, there have been nine tropical storms, five typhoons, and three of those typhoons sustained major hurricane intensity. One of the most recent ones, Typhoon Saomai, reached Super Typhoon status, and made landfall in Southeastern China as the most powerful typhoon to hit that country in fifty years. So far this has been the most violent typhoon season in recent memory in the Western Pacific. Eight of the nine storms thus far this season have made landfall in China. Typhoon Chanchu began the season in a big way as a Super Typhoon that would have been classified as a Category Four Hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. […]

  2. […] Since the very end of the 1994 season, when there were two named storms that particular month, the only season, which was below average was the 1997 season, where there were only eight named storms, three hurricanes, and one major hurricane. The 1997 season occurred in the midst of the strongest El Nino to date. With the recent dearth in activity throughout the Atlantic Basin, it has raised the question of whether or not, we have entered an El Nino phase. While the Atlantic has been tranquil, the Eastern and Western Pacific has seen a great deal of storms. Recently, China saw its worst typhoon in 50 years while seven others have also hit the Communist mainland. Over in the Eastern Pacific, Tropical Storm Hector was once a hurricane, and another disturbance has become the ninth named storm of 2006 in Ileana. […]

  3. […] This latest round of activity throughout the Pacific continues to show that conditions appear to be favoring an emegence of an El Nino. The Atlantic has had very hostile upper level dynamics while the Eastern Pacific has been busy with storms, hurricanes, and typhoons. The Western Pacific has been busy as well with eight storms alone striking mainland China including the worst typhoon to strike there in fifty years. Will this trend continue? We’ll have to see. Despite the fact that the atmosphere has not been kind to storms in the Atlantic, the region has shown signs of awakening in the past few weeks. […]

  4. […] Tropical Storm Ileana, which developed from a vast area of clouds and showers associated with a tropical low in the area of the Gulf of Tehuantepec, has winds of 40 mph, and is getting its act together in a hurry. Looking at the satellite, Ileana has developed a decent core of convection, and appears to have nice outflow, particularly in the southern semicircle. So, expect the National Hurricane Center to upgrade this system in the next advisory or two. But, that’s not all of it as far as the Pacific is concerned. While there isn’t much to talk about in the very busy Western Pacific on this evening, we have a major hurricane in the Central Pacific. […]