|A giant wave crashes against a seawall at Seogwipo Port on Jeju Island, Monday evening. Yonhap|
Weather agency expects strong rain, winds to continue until Tuesday
By Ko Dong-hwan
Typhoon Hinnamnor, formed in ocean waters far southeast of Korea on Aug. 28, has been approaching from the south. As of 8 p.m. on Monday, it was 140 kilometers south of Jeju Island, according to the Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA).
Most of the country experienced the effects of Hinnamnor, including heavy downpour and strong winds, Monday. On Monday evening, Jeju saw as much as 40 millimeters of hourly precipitation, while 5 millimeters to 20 millimeters were seen throughout the rest of the country.
Samgakbong Peak on Jeju Island recorded an accumulated precipitation of over 352 millimeters from Sunday to Monday morning. From Monday to Tuesday, mountains on Jeju will see the most rain in the country, accumulating over 600 millimeters, while the rest of the country will see between 100 millimeters and 300 millimeters, according to the KMA.
The KMA further warned Monday that "very strong rain, wind and storm surges" are expected until Tuesday, which will cause "very high waves" in coastal regions of South Jeolla Province, South Gyeongsang Province and Jeju Island.
Extreme weather warnings have been issued in most regions of the country as of Monday evening. The warnings spread to broader regions compared to Monday morning when concerns were more directed toward southern regions of the country including South Jeolla Province and South Gyeongsang Province.
|An airplane at Gimpo International Airport is tied to the airport tarmac on Monday to secure its footing and prevent it from being damaged by Typhoon Hinnamnor. Yonhap|
Into the late afternoon on Monday, Jeju started seeing worries becoming reality. Trees lining streets were knocked down, and flooding was seen in roads and drainage tunnels. All flights to and from Jeju International Airport scheduled for 2 p.m. and thereafter were canceled. Nine ocean voyage routes connecting the island to other offshore destinations via 12 vessels were also temporarily barred.
Busan, also one of the high-risk areas, temporarily closed its major harbor on Monday. Some 130 residents of areas vulnerable to landslides and flooding were evacuated from their homes as of Monday evening. The city government earlier on Monday advised some 1,000 residents of 690 households to evacuate their homes.
Hinnamnor's course turned abruptly north earlier this month while it was moving west toward Taiwan. The KMA said the typhoon, as the authority forecast before, turned slightly right on Monday afternoon heading toward the East Sea between Korea and Japan. The typhoon is expected to move past Jeju Island's eastern shores on Tuesday at about 1 a.m., and its eye will reach Busan on Tuesday morning, presenting risks of inevitable serious damage in the regions.
What makes Hinnamnor especially dangerous is that it is forecast to maintain strong winds throughout its run. The country's southern and southeastern regions will experience wind speeds of at least 33 meters per second and as high as 60, while Seoul and Gyeonggi Province in the northwest will also be under its influence.
High tides in the waters around Jeju and the southeastern coast also coincided with the timing of the typhoon reaching the country, raising the risks of storm surges in Seogwipo on Jeju Island and coastal cities of Mokpo, Yeosu, Changwon, Geoje and Busan.
The typhoon's intensity over the country will start to decrease on Wednesday when it moves closer to Sapporo in Japan and further toward Russia.
President Yoon Suk-yeol on Monday began monitoring Hinnamnor at the Yongsan Presidential Office after hosting an emergency meeting with his Cabinet. All the employees at the office were ordered to keep their posts around the clock until Tuesday, Kim Eun-hye, President Yoon's spokesperson, said Monday evening.
All local municipalities in the country are on alert over the typhoon. Busan Metropolitan City launched a disaster safety control tower on Saturday and has been breaking down action plans against Hinnamnor over five meetings as of Monday morning. Some 7,600 public servants under the city government were ordered to stay vigilant, while over 780 field officers surveyed risky spots citywide including construction sites, underground drainage infrastructure and outdoor advertising structures.
Mayor Park Heong-joon, to direct the city's preparation against Hinnamnor, even canceled his trip to Paris scheduled for this week where he planned to submit to Bureau International des Expositions an interim report on how to win the city's bid to host the Busan Expo 2030.
Jeju Special Self-Governing Province, also bracing for the approaching typhoon, expected that Hinnamnor will rival previous notorious typhoons that hit the country including Maemi (2003), Nari (2007) and Chaba (2016). At 1 a.m. on Tuesday, when the typhoon is forecast to be closest to the island ― about 30 kilometers east of Seogwipo ― it will generate maximum wind speeds of 45 m/s, according to the provincial government on Monday.
|President Yoon Suk-yeol, center, and personnel at the presidential office in Yongsan, Seoul, prepare for Typhoon Hinnamnor, Monday afternoon. Courtesy of Presidential Office|
"The minute Hinnamnor leaves the island, we will start surveying the island to check for any damage and casualties and spare no expenses in recovering them," Jeju Governor Oh Young-hun said during an emergency meeting on Monday. The governor also urged shop owners to close their businesses during the emergency period.
Gong Young-min, head of the coastal county of Goheung in South Jeolla Province, checked the region's tide embankment, sea dike sluice, water pumping facilities and sea ports on Sunday to make sure the city infrastructure was operational and ships were secured.
The Ministry of Education on Monday decided to temporarily close schools or move lessons online on Tuesday for students in Jeju, Busan, South Gyeongsang Province, Ulsan and South Jeolla Province. Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education on Monday also decided to temporarily close all kindergartens and elementary schools in the city on Tuesday. The authority also notified principals of the city's middle and high schools to decide based on their own judgments whether to temporarily close their schools or turn the lessons online on Tuesday.
The Ministry of Environment said Monday 20 dams nationwide have been inspected to see they can withhold some 6 billion tons of flood water altogether without discharging it downstream. The ministry also temporarily closed over 500 forest trekking routes in 20 national parks as well as camping sites in regions under Hinnamnor's influence.