Fishing boats are parked on the ground Monday near a harbor in Busan, as authorities prepare for heavy winds and potential damage from the rise of typhoon Bavi, the eighth typhoon of the year. (Yonhap)
Typhoon Bavi could grow to be one of the strongest to hit Korea in years, packing strong winds that could damage or destroy vehicles and outdoor structures, the weather agency said Monday.
According to the Korea Meteorological Administration, the eighth typhoon of the year that formed off the east coast of Taiwan last week was around the northwestern coast of Okinawa, Japan, as of 4 p.m. Monday, advancing at a speed of 12 kilometers per hour toward South Korea.
With a maximum wind speed of 115 kilometers per hour and an atmospheric pressure of 975 hectopascals at its center, it was categorized as a small, middle intensity typhoon.
But the KMA expects Bavi to gain strength, becoming “middle” in size and “strong” in intensity later Monday and “very strong” before it reaches the southern island of Jeju early Wednesday morning, weakening to “strong” the next day.
The typhoon’s forecast course is through the west coast of Jeju Island on Wednesday afternoon, traveling up the Yellow Sea and reaching near Seoul early Thursday. It is then expected to pass northeast of Pyongyang on Friday afternoon before dying out near Harbin, China.
There is a possibility, although deemed low, for Bavi to develop into a “super strong” typhoon, the highest classification on the KMA’s five-level scale introduced in May.
“Some uncertainties still remain for this typhoon,” said Woo Jin-kyu, a forecaster at the national weather agency during a press briefing Monday.
“There are many factors affecting the route and strength of Bavi, so we will have to keep our eye on it for the time being.”
A typhoon with wind speeds of 194 kilometers per hour earns the “super strong” rank, and the KMA forecasts that Bavi could bring more than 200 kilometers per hour of wind in the worst-case scenario.
In that scenario, Jeju Island and the west coastal regions of North Jeolla and South Jeolla provinces could see strong gusts of up to 216 kilometers per hour from Wednesday to Thursday. Other southern and western areas would be hit with winds of up to 126 kilometers per hour until Thursday.
The typhoon is also forecast to pour up to 500 millimeters of rain on Jeju Island, up to 150 millimeters in North Jeolla and South Jeolla provinces and up to 100 millimeters in other regions.
As the entire peninsula is expected to be under Bavi’s influence until Thursday, the weather agency has advised safety guidelines before it reaches the territory.
The government on Monday started operation of a central disaster response team in preparation for Typhoon Bavi and hiked the alert level from “attention” to “caution.” District governments and agencies are conducting concentrated maintenance on potentially vulnerable facilities for the time being.
By Ko Jun-tae (email@example.com