Typhoon Muifa Misses China’s East Coast, Lands in North Korea as Tropical Storm

Typhoon Muifa Storm PathBOSTON, Aug. 8, 2011 – According to catastrophe modeling firm AIR Worldwide, Muifa, once a super typhoon with winds exceeding 250 km/h (1-min sustained), made landfall near the border between China and North Korea around 12:00 UTC Monday at tropical storm strength. Last week, the storm had been forecast to make landfall over the weekend near Shanghai. However, Typhoon Muifa turned to the north earlier than expected and bypassed China’s eastern coastal provinces. Muifa weakened to a tropical storm as it entered the East China Sea and passed to the east of the Jiaodong Peninsula of Shandong province.

On August 5, Muifa passed south of Okinawa, battering Japan’s Ryuku Islands with high winds and record rainfall (609 mm within 24 hours in Motobu, Okinawa). Officials canceled flights, closed ports, and suspended refining operations. While the storm caused some street flooding, no major wind damage has been reported.

“From there, Typhoon Muifa approached China’s east coast and was originally forecast to hit Zhejiang province as it was steered along the periphery of a subtropical ridge that was moving southwestward over Japan,” said Jason Butke, senior scientist at AIR Worldwide. “However, the ridge weakened and stopped its westward motion, causing Muifa to turn to the north when it was still 200 km from the coast. While it did not make landfall in China, Muifa nevertheless weakened from its interaction  with land and was downgraded to a tropical storm by Sunday.”

Along China’s eastern seaboard, intensive preparations were undertaken in anticipation of the storm’s arrival. Several hundred flights were canceled, tens of thousands of ships and fishing vessels were ordered to dock, and ports—including Ningbo, the country’s largest—were closed temporarily. Workers were evacuated from offshore platforms of the Shengli Oilfield near Weihai port in Shandong province.  The oilfield, the second largest in China, has a daily output of 8000 tonnes.

In Zhejiang province, disaster officials reported that the storm destroyed 169 houses, 3,500 tons of crops, and 121,300 tons of aquatic products, and estimated the direct economic impact at 1.87 billion yuan (290 million USD).

In Liaoning province, high waves breached a dyke in Dalian city, threatening the Fujiahua chemical plant. Officials report that the dyke has been reinforced and that the situation is now under control.

Today near 12:00 UTC, Muifa made landfall in North Korea near the China border with maximum winds of approximately 70 km/h. It is expected to weaken to a tropical depression over the next 12 hours and turn to the northeast over Jilin and Heilongjiang provinces in China and then dissipate some time on Wednesday.

Because Muifa did not make a direct hit on China’s highly populated eastern coast and passed by with only moderate wind speeds and precipitation, AIR currently does not expected significant insured losses from Muifa.

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