Jim Andrews

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Typhoon Haikui: Another Blow to East China

August 6, 2012; 9:06 AM ET

--Unusual Tropical Cyclone Landfalls in China

An unusual second strong tropical cyclone in less than a week is forecast to make landfall in eastern China mainland.

Monday, Haikui was upgraded to a typhoon as it aimed for the Zhejiang coast south of Shanghai. Landfall was forecast for Tuesday, U.S. time.

Only last week, strong Tropical Storm Damrey made landfall in northern Jiangsu on Aug. 2 (U.S. time), the same day that Tropical Storm Saola struck the China mainland of northern Fujian.

Tropical cyclones are frequent visitors to the China mainland and the island of Hainan. However, most of these make landfall from the South China Sea or the Taiwan Strait. Few of them track north of Taiwan, reaching the China mainland from the East China or Yellow seas.

Note that Saola's landfall was north of the Taiwan Strait, but the storm had earlier made landfall in Taiwan.

A sampling of named tropical cyclone paths by season since 1945 showed that many years have no China mainland tropical cyclone landfalls north of the Taiwan Strait. A two-landfall season is rather the exception.

In one year, 1966, three typhoons made landfall, having steered clear of northern Taiwan, from the east along a rather short stretch of coast between Shanghai and the Taiwan Strait. The seasons of 1985, 1989, 1990 and 2004 were also active along the eastern China coast.

It is estimated that the number of named tropical cyclones making landfall in China north of Taiwan and the Taiwan Strait is less than one per year.

--Impact of Haikui on Mainland China


Typhoon Haikui spins westward over the southern East China Sea from Okinawa and the Ryukyu Islands, aimed for East China on Aug. 6, 2012 (Navy Research Lab Monterey/NRLMRY)

Landfall on the Zhejiang coast is indicated for Tuesday, U.S. time (Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning, local time). This should happen somewhere between Ningbo and Wenzhou.

Cyclone status at time of landfall will be strong tropical storm or even typhoon, so Haikui will have potential to cause widespread wide damage. Storm tides could bring significant coastal flooding.

Notwithstanding storm intensity, Haikui is more likely to be known for its flooding rain than its wind and sea effects. The landscape of southern Zhejiang is hilly to mountainous, which lends itself to enhanced rainfall and runoff. This storm should give top rainfall of 10 to 16 inches (about 25 to 40 cm).

Shanghai will get outer affects, wind and rain, as the weakening tropical storm slowly pulls inland to its south. If the remnant weather system hovers in the area long enough, the city could get excessive rainfall and flooding.

It is possible that Haikui will veer northeastward, track back over water, and regain tropical storm status late in the week.

--Tropical Cyclones and the East Asia Heat Wave

Coincident with the westward-tracking cyclones of the last one to two weeks, sweltering heat has settled over parts of East Asia, most of all Japan and the Korean Peninsula.

Between July 25 and Aug. 5, Tokyo, Japan, was hotter than normal by 4.9 degrees C, or 8.9 degrees F, data accessed by AccuWeather.com show.

Hotter still, Seoul, South Korea, was an average of 5.4 degrees C, or 9.6 degrees F, as indicated by AccuWeather.com records.

It seems that the culprit in directing tropical cyclones westward to the Asia mainland and the trigger for the heat wave was one in the same: persistent sub-tropical high pressure between eastern China and the western Pacific Ocean.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or AccuWeather.com

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