February 25th, 2009

Synopses of Significant Individual Typhoons Developing in Northwest Pacific in 2008

Posted at 12:45 AM ET

Dr. Rebecca Cheetham, Instrat®

Twelve typhoons developed in the 2008 season, of which eight made landfall at typhoon status. Of these eight landfalling typhoons, five - Kalmaegi, Fung-Wong, Sinlaku, Hagupit and Jangmi - caused significant amounts of damage.

Typhoon Kalmaegi (July 14 - 18, 2008)

Typhoon Kalmaegi developed as a tropical depression, northeast of the Philippine Islands on July 14, 2008, reaching tropical storm strength the next day. Kalmaegi strengthened the monsoonal rains of the Philippines as it passed, resulting in flooding that affected thousands of people. Kalmaegi became a Category 2 typhoon on July 17, 2008, with maximum sustained wind speeds of around 104 mph (167 kmph). Later that day, Kalmaegi made landfall on northern Taiwan, just south of Ilan, as a Category 2 typhoon with sustained winds of around 100 mph (160 kmph). Kalmaegi lashed Taiwan with heavy rain, causing flash floods and landslides in southern and central areas of the island that claimed 19 lives. The typhoon led to several flight delays and cancellations, in addition to forcing the closure of schools and businesses across the island. Kalmaegi’s path took it just west of the capital Taipei, subjecting the city to typhoon-force winds.

Agriculture was badly affected by Kalmaegi and Taiwan’s Council of Agriculture stated that losses in the sector exceeded USD24 million. The National Disaster Response Agency also stated that Kalmaegi caused around USD12.5 million in damage to water conservancy facilities, including irrigation systems and reservoirs.

After leaving Taiwan, Kalmaegi crossed the East China Sea, making a second landfall on the southeastern coast of China, in Fujian Province on July 18, 2008 as a tropical storm. Ahead of the storm’s arrival, more than 360,000 people were evacuated from coastal areas of eastern China and around 61,000 fishing vessels were recalled to port.

Typhoon Fung-Wong (July 25 - 28, 2008)

Typhoon Fung-Wong developed as a tropical depression in the northwestern Pacific Ocean on July 25, 2008. Fung-Wong then tracked west, strengthening to become a typhoon on July 26, 2008, reaching peak intensity as a Category 2 typhoon with sustained winds of around 109mph (176 kmph) the following day. Fung-Wong’s outer rain bands caused intensification of monsoon rains in the northern Philippines, resulting in widespread flooding and landslides, in addition to power outages. Flooding and landslides resulted in the deaths of four people.

Fung-Wong’s westerly track took it on a path towards China. The storm made its first landfall in central Taiwan in the eastern county of Hualian, early on July 28, 2008 local time as a Category 2 typhoon with sustained winds of around 100 mph (160 kmph). Fung-Wong’s powerful winds and heavy rain triggered flooding and landslides across the island, and reports said that two people were killed. Hualian County, where the typhoon came ashore, received more than 36 inches (900 mm) of rain, prompting the emergency evacuation of homes. Flooding was widespread across the whole island, forcing authorities to evacuate people to higher ground in many counties. Thousands of homes lost power across the island, and all forms of transport were suspended or disrupted. Following the typhoon’s landfall, the stock market in Taipei was closed for the day, along with all schools and businesses in the capital city. Agriculture on the island was affected by severe flooding, with around 3,345 hectares of crops and orchards being damaged. The Council of Agriculture said that losses to the sector could reach USD10 million. Initial insured loss estimates for Taiwan released by AIR Worldwide at the time of landfall, stated that they were not likely to exceed USD100 million.

After leaving Taiwan, Fung-Wong crossed the Taiwan Strait and made second landfall in China’s Fujian Province as a tropical storm on July 28, 2008. Prior to the storm’s arrival, around 600,000 people were evacuated from coastal areas in both Fujian and Zhejiang Provinces.

Fung-Wong caused widespread flooding in both Fujian and Zhejiang Provinces. In the city of Wenzhou, Zhejiang, rainfall reached 13 inches (335 mm) and forced more than 150,000 people to evacuate to higher ground.

Typhoon Sinlaku (September 8 - 20, 2008)

Typhoon Sinlaku developed as a tropical depression in the western Pacific Ocean, east of the northern Philippine Islands on September 8, 2008 and strengthened to a tropical storm the same day. Although the storm did not make landfall in the Philippines, the storm’s outer rain bands intensified seasonal monsoon rains, causing flooding on the northern Philippine island of Luzon. On passing the Philippines, Sinlaku strengthened to become a typhoon and attained Category 4 status on September 10, 2008, with maximum sustained winds of around 144 mph (231 kmph). Sinlaku made first landfall in Ilan County, northeastern Taiwan on September 14, 2008 as a Category 2 typhoon with sustained winds of around 107 mph (173 kmph). Heavy rain from Sinlaku triggered flash flooding and mudslides in Taiwan’s mountainous northern areas, where there were at least four fatalities. Heavy rain and associated mudslides also affected central areas of the island, where a further two people were reportedly killed. Infrastructure was badly affected in northern areas of Taiwan, with mudslides blocking roads and several bridges collapsing. Flights at Taipei’s Taoyuan Airport were severely disrupted and power was cut to hundreds of thousands of households. Taiwan’s Council of Agriculture estimated losses to crops from the storm in the region of USD3.6 million.

The east coast of mainland China was also affected by Sinlaku’s outer rain bands and strong winds of around 78 mph (126 kmph) were recorded off Zhejiang Province. More than 460,000 people were evacuated from coastal areas in the provinces of Fujian and Zhejiang and thousands of fishing vessels were warned to return to land.

On leaving Taiwan, Sinlaku changed direction and tracked northeast towards Japan. The typhoon skirted Japan’s southern Kyushu Island on September 18, 2008, with sustained winds of around 86 mph (139 kmph). Sinlaku triggered flooding and mudslides in Miyazaki and Kagoshima prefectures, but there were no fatalities reported. Flights were disrupted in the southern part of Kyushu and surrounding islands and Sinlaku’s strong winds also led to the closure of three of Japan’s western coast oil refineries.

Typhoon Hagupit (September 18 - 24, 2008)

Typhoon Hagupit developed as a tropical depression in the western Pacific Ocean on September 18, 2008. The storm strengthened as it tracked southwest and then northwest, becoming a Category 2 typhoon on September 22, 2008, when it was located north of the northern Philippine Island of Luzon. The typhoons outer rain bands affected the northern Philippines and Taiwan as it moved across the Luzon Strait towards southeastern China. After passing the Philippines as a Category 2 storm, six people were reported killed due to landslides and flooding, while 13 people were trapped inside a goldmine in the central Philippine mountain town of Itogon. Hagupit strengthened as it crossed the South China Sea, reaching Category 4 status with sustained maximum winds of around 138 mph (222kmph) on September 23, 2008. Hagupit made landfall early the next day in China’s Guangdong Province as a Category 3 typhoon, with sustained winds of around 124 mph (200 kmph). Media reports said that Hagupit was the worst typhoon to hit Guangdong Province in more than 10 years, with nearly 9 million residents affected.

On making landfall, Hagupit brought ferocious winds and torrential rains, which killed 10 people and inundated the coastal city of Zhanjiang in Guangdong Province. Approximately 18,500 homes were destroyed by the storm, and more than 800 were flooded. There was also substantial agricultural damage, with the destruction of banana crops. According to reports at the time, the economic loss in the Guangdong Province was around USD924 million. AIR Worldwide estimated insured losses from Hagupit to onshore properties in China from wind and flooding to be between USD100 million and USD250 million.

Hagupit also affected Hong Kong with torrential rains and winds of up to 100 mph (162 kmph). There were several casualties resulting from the storm and severe disruption to transport infrastructure with flights cancelled or delayed. There was also flooding on the islands of Lantau and Cheung Chau.

Hagupit weakened as it moved inland towards Vietnam, although torrential rain triggered flash floods and landslides to northern regions of the country. Here, Hagupit was responsible for the destruction of thousands of hectares of crops, inundating several thousand homes and claiming the lives of around 41 people. Economic losses in Vietnam were estimated to be in the region of USD65 million. Sources have quoted Hagupit as being the most destructive typhoon of the 2008 season, causing economic damage that totalled around USD1 billion.

Typhoon Jangmi (September 23 - 30, 2008)

Typhoon Jangmi developed in the northwestern Pacific Ocean as a tropical depression on the September 23, 2008. While tracking northwest, Jangmi attained typhoon status on September 25, 2008 and reached maximum strength as a high Category 4 typhoon with sustained winds of around 155 mph (250 kmph) on September 27, 2008, as it neared the east coast of Taiwan. Jangmi made landfall in northern Taiwan’s Ilan County on September 28, 2008 as a Category 4 typhoon, with wind gusts of up to 141 mph (227 kmph). Jangmi was the most powerful typhoon to hit Taiwan during the 2008 season.

After making landfall, Jangmi quickly weakened as it moved across the northeastern portion of Taiwan, exiting the island as a Category 1 typhoon which rapidly became a tropical storm. During its passage across Taiwan, Jangmi caused torrential rain and powerful winds that led to flooding and widespread power cuts to thousands of households. Two fatalities were reported and approximately 60 people were injured.

Jangmi caused severe economic disruption across the island, with the closure of major airports, offices and financial markets. Substantial agricultural losses of around USD553,000 were also reported by the Council of Agriculture, with losses to fruit crops contributing to most of the damage. At the time, AIR Worldwide estimated insured losses from Jangmi to onshore properties in Taiwan to range from USD40 million to USD120 million.

In China, the threat from Jangmi prompted the evacuations of 460,000 people from eastern regions and the suspension of shipping across the Taiwan Strait. China did not suffer damage or disruption from Jangmi because as after it entered the Taiwan Strait, Jangmi skirted China as a tropical storm on its path towards Japan, before becoming extratropical on September 30, 2008.

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