Taiwan is readying itself to bear the brunt of a major typhoon which is expected to make landfall on the small island nation on Thursday. According to a CNN report, the category 5 super typhoon named Nepartak is headed straight towards Taiwan after it intensified over the past three days.
The typhoon, which started off as a small tropical disturbance over last weekend, intensified into a tropical storm on Monday. By Tuesday afternoon, Nepartak had quickly grown into a category 4 typhoon with no signs of slowing down. The weather conditions prevalent at the time, and the warm ocean waters, meant it only managed to gain further strength over most of Tuesday and Wednesday. On Wednesday, the Japanese Meteorological Agency confirmed that typhoon Nepartak had a central pressure of 900 millibars. The Joint Typhoon Warning Center later added that Typhoon Nepartak boasted of sustained 175 mph wind speeds, putting it into the category of a category 5 typhoon – the same as a category 5 hurricane.
— Michael Lowry (@MichaelRLowry) July 6, 2016
Meteorologists add that the “unusually warm” waters that extended to a great depth below the storm played a key role in adding to the strength of Typhoon Nepartak. However, they add that after Wednesday, the typhoon is expected to move over a relatively cooler area that could lead to slight weakening. Even after weakening, they estimate it to still remain a category 4 typhoon when it hits Taiwan on Thursday afternoon. Unlike traditional tropical cyclones, Typhoon Nepartak would be slower to lose strength because it is set to encounter another area with warm waters before it makes landfall in Taiwan.
Apart from the fear of deadly gale force winds, Typhoon Nepartak is also expected to dump a huge quantity of rain in Taiwan and China. This is bad news for the region which has already been battered by heavy rainfall over the past week. In Taiwan alone, the typhoon is expected to dump anywhere between five to 15 inches of rain. It is also expected to cause huge agricultural losses in Taiwan. The country should, however, be safe if it weakens to a category 4 typhoon at landfall because the country has had past experience dealing with such typhoons.
— CNN International (@cnni) July 6, 2016
China is also likely to be badly affected by the typhoon. Parts of central and eastern China have been, for the past few days, battered by heavy monsoon rains. Floods in the region have in the past 10 days alone killed more than 170 people and caused over $5 billion worth of damage. With Typhoon Nepartak expected to bring additional rainfall, the situation is likely to get worse for people living there. Current estimates say that the typhoon could bring more than 16 inches of rain to several areas in China. The same regions received more than eight inches of rain already, last week.
When Typhoon Nepartak makes landfall in Taiwan, it would be the first major typhoon to hit the country this year. No stranger to powerful typhoons, Taiwan was last year hit by two powerful typhoons. The first one, Typhoon Soudelor, made landfall on August 7, 2015, as a category 3 storm with sustained wind speeds of over 120 mph. Eight people were killed and over 420 were injured. The typhoon also caused over $100 million in damage. A month later, on September 30, Typhoon Dujuan made landfall in Taiwan as a category 4 typhoon with sustained 140 mph winds. Three people died during the typhoon while an estimated 376 others were injured. While it did not cause major damage to property, the Taiwanese government estimated that it had caused $10 million worth of damage. Typhoon Dujuan proved more destructive in eastern China, where it is estimated to have damaged property worth more than $652 million. No deaths were reported from there.
[Image By NASA | Public Domain | Wikimedia Commons]