Muifa developed on July 25 to become the sixth named storm of the West Pacific typhoon season, bringing heavy rain to the Philippines as it moved across the Pacific Ocean. The storm is currently located approximately 50 miles (90 kilometers) southwest of Okinawa in Japan, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC). The storm has strengthened since its formation to become the third typhoon of the season. Muifa currently packs sustained winds of around 98 mph (157 kmph), equivalent to a category 2 typhoon. The storm is expected to slowly strengthen as it moves over the northeastern Philippine Sea towards eastern China. Muifa is tracking northwest at 8 mph (13 kmph) and the JTWC currently expects the storm to pass to the east of China’s commercial capital of Shanghai on August 7. The JTWC said typhoon-force winds currently extend around 75 miles (120 kilometers) from the center of the storm while tropical storm-force winds extend around 260 miles (420 kilometers).
According to the JTWC, typhoon-force winds are currently hitting parts of the Japanese prefecture of Okinawa. The Japan Meteorological Agency added that the storm packs wind gusts of up to 135 mph (215 kmph) as it passes to the south of Naha City, bringing swells as high as 35 feet (11 meters). The storm’s strong winds and heavy rain have caused widespread disruption in Okinawa. Most flights in and out of the prefecture have been cancelled, 60,000 households have lost power and at least 15 people have been injured by the severe weather. Government offices and several businesses have been forced to shut down and dozens of people have evacuated their homes. EQECAT says the powerful winds, coastal surge and heavy rain experienced in Okinawa have the potential to cause significant insured losses.
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After passing Okinawa, Muifa is expected to maintain its current northwesterly motion and approach eastern China. Although there is significant uncertainty associated with Muifa’s long term forecast track, the latest JTWC forecast indicates tropical storm-force winds may affect Shanghai as Muifa skirts the coastline. As the storm passes to the east of Shanghai, the JTWC expects the storm to shift to a more northerly track on a path that will see it make landfall in eastern Shandong Province. The JTWC’s latest forecast indicates Muifa will strengthen over the next 36 hours, but maintain its category 2 typhoon status, before weakening as it nears Shandong Province. Current forecasts show the storm making landfall in Shandong Province on August 8 with sustained wind speeds of around 75 mph (120 kmph).
Authorities in Shanghai and the neighboring Chinese province of Zhejiang are already making contingency plans for the storm’s arrival as powerful winds, torrential rain and waves of up to 8 feet (2.5 meters) high are expected in coastal areas. Officials have issued an orange alert to ships and fishing vessels, its second-highest alert level, and warned that Muifa was expected to be one of the most powerful typhoons to affect northern China in recent years. The official Xinhua news agency said 7,000 fishing boats had been called back to harbor and local governments were preparing for possible evacuation of residents. China’s National Meteorological Centre said residents living in the provinces of Anhui, Jiangxi, Jiangsu, Shandong and Zhejiang are likely to be affected by the storm.
Earlier this week, Muifa’s outer rain band dumped heavy rainfall in northern and central Philippines, triggering flooding that forced around 14,000 people to evacuate their homes. According to the Philippine National Disasters Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), Muifa damaged 2.5 billion pesos (USD60 million) worth of property and 940 million pesos (USD22 million) worth of crops.
Guy Carpenter will continue to closely monitor Muifa’s progress and update this bulletin if there is significant damage to report from the storm.
Sources: Joint Typhoon Warning Center, WSI, Kyodo News, Agence France Presse, Reuters News, CNN News, Xinhua News
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