Thursday, 22 August 2019

Extreme weather hits Asia

LONDON: Extreme weather is striking parts of Asia with deadly flash-flooding in Vietnam, a tropical storm prompting evacuations and disrupting travel in China and an on-going heat wave in Japan.

In Vietnam, 21 people have died and more people are missing after Tropical Depression Son Tinh triggered flash floods and landslides, submerging villages in the northern provinces of Thanh Hoa and Yen Bai, state-run Vietnam News Agency (VNA) reported Sunday.

Local government groups are searching for missing ones, arranging temporary accommodation for those who have lost their homes and relocating people from dangerous areas. The government is also mobilizing forces to fix infrastructure, including homes, heath care centers, hospitals and schools.

Winds from the storm had reached up to 52 kph and the storm is expected to continue affecting Vietnam until Tuesday, according to the Vietnam National Center for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting. CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam said that forecast rainfall estimates could approach 500 mm (nearly 20 inches) across northern Vietnam and southern China over the next few days.

190,000 relocated in Shanghai

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Ampil is bearing down on eastern China – impacting the area from Shanghai to Jiangsu Province. More than 190,000 people have been evacuated to ‘safer’ places in Shanghai as Ampil makes landfall, bringing with it heavy rain and strong winds.

“Ampil, the 10th typhoon this year, has made landfall on the island of Chongming in Shanghai, packing winds of up to 28 meters per second near its eye,” the municipal meteorological observatory told Xinhua, a local news agency.

The local government municipal flood control confirmed that it has ‘completed relocating a total of 192,727 people living in the coastal areas as well as temporary housing and construction sites as of early Sunday morning.’ Winds gusting up to 100 kph and heavy rain from Ampil are disrupting travel, with more than 500 international and domestic flights canceled at Shanghai’s two main airports Sunday morning.

“Tropical Storm Ampil is fast-approaching Shanghai, affecting our airports’ flight schedules. Several airlines have made the difficult decision of canceling certain flights leaving and arriving at Shanghai Pudong Airport and Hongqiao Airport between 0:00 and 20:00 on July 22,” the Shanghai Airport Authority said.

Rainfall amounts of 100-200 mm (4-8 inches) are forecast; with localized falls of up to 300 mm (12 inches). The storm will weaken as it moves further inland but that heavy rain will continue as moisture is drawn into the region.

Philippines monsoon

Further south, the Philippines’ monsoon season has been exacerbated by Son Tinh, Ampil, and now Tropical Depression 13W (known locally as ‘Josie’). Severe weather has caused two deaths and 728,000 people to be evacuated from their homes, with 585 villages affected by heavy rain, according to state news agency Philippines News Agency (PNA).

Currently ‘Josie’ is skirting the most northeastern island of the Philippines and bringing with it winds gusting up to 86 mph (138 kph), according to PNA, which cited data from the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).

Flooding caused by the tropical depression has caused 6 to 7 inches (15-17 cm) of flooding in metro Manila but the storm is expected to leave the Philippines on Monday, the news agency reports. Another tropical depression is swirling to the country’s east.

Japan heat wave

Meantime, much of central and southern Japan is continuing to swelter in excessive heat. Nearly 110 million of Japan’s 128 million people have been impacted by the heat wave over the past two weeks, with roughly 90% of the country experiencing extreme heat.

While temperatures remain in the mid-30s Celsius (90s Fahrenheit), the heat index – which factors in relative humidity – has soared into the lower and middle 40s.

“Sweating is only as good as your body’s ability to evaporate that sweat off of the skin. Heat indices in the mid 40s are making it nearly impossible for the body’s response to properly take effect,” experts said. As of Wednesday, 13 deaths had been linked to the heat wave, following flooding that killed at least 210 in Japan earlier this month.

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