Tropical Cyclone “Khanun” makes landfall in South Korea

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Tropical Cyclone “Khanun” made landfall on Geojedo Islands, South Korea late August 9, 2023 (UTC), with significant impacts across the country. While moving for 16 hours, the cyclone led to nearly 16 000 evacuations and significant infrastructure damage before dissipating near Pyongyang on August 11.

Within hours of Tropical Cyclone Khanun’s landfall on Geojedo Islands, its strong winds, clocked at 85 km/h (50 mph), combined with heavy rain rates of 30 to 60 mm (1.2 – 2.4 inches) per hour, wreaked havoc across South Korea. This rain intensity led to widespread flooding, destruction of facilities, transportation disruptions, and school closures.

The Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters (CDSCH) provided a breakdown of the damages, indicating 184 instances at public facilities and 177 at private ones. The most severe damages were observed in the southeastern region, close to where the typhoon made landfall, and along the east coast. This included 64 instances of road flooding and destruction, 30 submerged houses, and flooding of 16 commercial structures. Alongside the physical destruction, the country grappled with widespread power outages, affecting over 40 358 households.

A total of 15 862 individuals were evacuated due to the typhoon’s threat. Fortunately, 9 741 of these evacuees have been able to return home.

Transportation was significantly hampered, with about 680 roads, predominantly in the southeastern region, being closed due to flooding and landslides.

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Typhoon “Khanun” at 22:00 UTC on August 9, 2023. Credit: JMA/Himawari-9, RAMMB/CIRA, The Watchers
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Typhoon “Khanun” at 06:20 UTC on August 10, 2023. Credit: JMA/Himawari-9, RAMMB/CIRA, The Watchers
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Further disruptions were felt in the air travel sector. The Interior Ministry reported a total of 355 flights from 14 airports nationwide were canceled on August 10. The Korea Railroad Corp., Korail, stated that 161 high-speed trains and 251 regular trains faced suspensions. Educational institutions were not spared either.

Out of the 3 333 educational establishments across the country, nearly half modified their schedules, with an overwhelming 1 579 kindergartens, and elementary to high schools opting for remote classes, closures, or delayed timings.

North Gyeongsang Province, which faced forecasts of the most severe rain and wind, had all its schools closed.

While the damages and disruptions caused by Khanun were significant, the silver lining came in the form of the cyclone’s decreased intensity as it moved further north. The Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA) remarked on August 11 that Khanun was weaker than initially predicted, attributing it to the cyclone losing speed as it progressed north along the peninsula.

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References:

1 Additionally, sea routes were disrupted, but no flight cancellations were reported on August 11. – YNA – August 11, 2023

Featured image credit: Typhoon “Khanun” at 22:00 UTC on August 9, 2023. Credit: JMA/Himawari-9, RAMMB/CIRA, The Watchers

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