Thursday 30 August 2012

Hurricanes and typhoons

From China and the Korean pensinsula...

Typhoon Bolaven causes damage in northeast China

29 August, 2012

Gales and downpours brought by Typhoon Bolaven swept through northeast China's Jilin Province since Tuesday, flooding downtown areas and damaging farmlands.

The tropical storm affected Changchun, the provincial capital, with rainfall exceeding 10 centimeters from 8 a.m. Tuesday to 8 a.m. Wednesday. The maximum precipitation reached 120.6 millimeters.

In the city, many trees were uprooted as 25 road sections were flooded. Meanwhile, more than 20 power lines were damaged in the heavy rain.

The local transport, civil administration, power and sanitation departments dispatched workers Wednesday morning to clear roads and repair damaged power lines.

The preliminary data showed that the typhoon flattened 20 percent of corn lands, which may have contributed to regional crop failure.

The estimation of the total loss is currently underway.

2nd Typhoon Threatens Battered Korean Peninsula
The Korean Peninsula cleaned up Wednesday after one powerful typhoon and girded itself for another that could be particularly damaging to North Korea, which is still recovering from earlier floods.

29 August, 2012

The first storm, Typhoon Bolaven, left at least 12 people dead in South Korea, including eight fishermen killed in wrecks off the southern coast. Damage in North Korea, which was hit late Tuesday and early Wednesday, wasn't completely clear, though state media reported that the storm knocked out power, submerged roads and houses, and ruined farm land.

Typhoon Tembin, meanwhile, was expected to reach South Korea on Thursday, with its outer bands hitting North Korea later in the day.

Tembin is expected to weaken as it reaches North Korea. Heavy rain, however, often means catastrophe in the North because of poor drainage, deforestation and decrepit infrastructure. The North's official Korean Central News Agency said some areas of Hwanghae and Kangwon provinces would receive up to 70 millimeters (2.8 inches) of rain on Thursday and Friday.

Weather officials had warned that Bolaven would be the strongest typhoon to hit the region in several years, but its gusts in other parts of Asia weren't as powerful as predicted.

KCNA reported that Bolaven tore off a power station's roof, cut power lines in Kaesong city and damaged more than 8,500 hectares (21,000 acres) of maize fields, hurting the chances of a successful harvest.

The typhoon tore roofs off several public buildings in South Hwanghae province and damaged TV relay facilities in North Hwanghae province, KCNA said.

Many houses and roads were submerged or destroyed and railroads were covered by landslides in South Phyongan, Kangwon, and South Hamgyong provinces, KCNA said.

Strong winds and rain lashed Pyongyang, the North's capital, Tuesday, but there was little apparent damage there.

Thousands of young people had been brought to Pyongyang to celebrate the anniversary of the founding of the country's main youth political organization. The young delegates toured various places in Pyongyang on Tuesday, state media said, and leader Kim Jong Un visited a military unit on the country's eastern border with the South, despite torrential rain.

In South Korea, Bolaven temporarily left hundreds of thousands without power, canceled flights, left nearly 100 families homeless and damaged farm land. The storm also churned up rough seas that smashed two Chinese fishing ships into rocks off southern Jeju island, killing eight and leaving seven missing. Coast guard ships were still searching for the missing fishermen after an eighth dead body washed ashore Wednesday afternoon, coast guard spokesman Ko Chang-keon said.

The coast guard rescued 12 fishermen from the ships on Tuesday, and six others swam or were washed ashore.

The storm killed at least four other people across South Korea, officials said.

The storms come as North Korea tries to help people with food, shelter, health care, and clean water after heavy flooding in July, according to a recent United Nations situation report. More than 170 died nationwide, and tens of thousands of homes were destroyed in the floods, according to official North Korean accounts.

Many flood victims still live in tents with limited access to water and other basic facilities, the U.N. report said, and there is worry about increased malnutrition in coming weeks.

And from the United States....

Storm pounds New Orleans on anniversary of Katrina
Hurricane Isaac has pounded New Orleans and the northern Gulf Coast, delivering gale-force winds, heavy rain and the promise of flooding across an area from Louisiana's southern coast to the Florida Panhandle.

A New Orleans police car navigates through debris as Hurricane Isaac passes through Louisiana. Photo: Reuters

30 August, 2012

Water spilled over a levee in Plaquemines Parish in south-eastern Louisiana, which will result in ''significant deep flooding in this area'', the National Weather Service reported, citing emergency officials.

Isaac arrived yesterday, a day before the seventh anniversary of hurricane Katrina, which killed 1800 people.

Isaac, with winds extending 282 kilometres from its centre, may produce as much as 50 centimetres of rain in the region over the next two days, according to the National Hurricane Centre.

''Isaac is with us in a very significant way,'' New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu said yesterday as the wind howled outside City Hall. ''We're in the heart of this fight.''

Federal officials warned that Isaac, the Category 1 hurricane that killed 29 people in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, would generate high seas, intense rain and serious flooding in coastal and inland areas for days.

The hurricane is the first test of the $US14.5 billion ($A14 billion) 200-kilometre ring of levees, flood walls, gates and pumps put in place after hurricane Katrina by the US Army Corps of Engineers, the agency that built the defences that failed New Orleans catastrophically in 2005.

This storm is nowhere near as powerful as Katrina was, but its breadth is potentially wider.

Forecasters continued to predict a potentially life-threatening coastal storm surge, already reported in some spots in Louisiana to be over three metres. Communities may be cut off for days, and flooding may result in ''certain death'' in areas outside the levees.

''The hazards are beginning,'' Rick Knabb, the director of the National Hurricane Centre, said. ''It is going to last a long time and affect a lot of people.''

''We are ready for this,'' said Tim Doody, the president of the regional levee board covering much of the New Orleans metropolitan area.

President Barack Obama declared states of emergency in parts of Louisiana and Mississippi as the storm approached.

''America will be there to help folks recover no matter what this storm brings,'' he said at a campaign event in Ames, Iowa. ''Because when disaster strikes we're not Democrats or Republicans first, we are Americans first.'

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