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Super typhoon may hit Korean Peninsula

Weather agency predicts two or three more heavy storms by September


The Korean Peninsula is expected to face a mega typhoon of disastrous proportions this summer, according to the state’s weather agency on Tuesday. The Korea Meteorological Administration predicts that two or three more typhoons could hit the two Koreas up till September, after analyzing computer simulations.

The KMA found that the North Pacific high-pressure system is moving toward the peninsula and ocean temperatures off the eastern Chinese coast are rising, a possibly devastating combination.

“Through these trends, it is possible that the typhoon that will land in Korea will be even more powerful than before,” said Kim Tae-ryong, head of the KMA’s National Typhoon Center.

Through their analysis, the NTC found that during July, August and September, a total four typhoons may hit the country, up from the yearly average of two to three.

However the simulations showed that other forecasts fall within the yearly average.

The North Pacific high-pressure system is expected to spawn up to 15 typhoons this season out of 18 to 21 typhoons over the course of the year.

Typhoons, which travel along the border of the high pressure system fueled by the warm oceans, used to cross over China losing much power before hitting Korea. This would result in large amounts of rainfall over the peninsula, but little tropical storm damage.

But lately the temperature of the East China Sea has started to rise, and the North Pacific high-pressure system started to develop in a latitudinal motion rather than the normal longitudinal development.

The change in variables raises the possibility of typhoons changing their course and making landfall near the Korean Peninsula from the west coast to the south coast.

“Typhoons that have caused massive damage like “Sarah” and “Maemi” usually make landfall on the southern coast, rather than the Yellow Sea, before making its way over to the East Sea,” said Kim.

Disastrous typhoons like Sarah in 1959, Rusa in 2002 and Maemi in 2003 all had the characteristic of traveling from the south of the peninsula toward the East Sea.

The three typhoons inflicted an estimated combined property damage of $5.6 billion.

According to Kim, the ocean temperatures are high around August and September, which could bring about super typhoons.

“Even if it isn’t this year, in the future the possibility of devastation from a super typhoon is growing greater and greater,” he said.

Although typhoons act as a cleanser for the environment of sorts, Kim stressed that the appropriate educational and precautionary measures need to be placed in order to avoid human and property damage.

By Robert Lee (robert@heraldcorp.com)
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