According to catastrophe modeling firm AIR Worldwide, Typhoon Vicente, the 8th named storm to form in the Northwest Pacific this year, struck Hong Kong at 4 a.m. Tuesday (July 24, 2012). Accompanied by heavy rains, a central pressure of 950 millibars, and 10-minute sustained winds of 80 knots (170 km/h [106 mph]) according to the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), Vicente made landfall as a strong Category 2 typhoon.
Prior to landfall, the Hong Kong Observatory issued its No. 10 hurricane signal – the highest for the city – for the first time since 1999, when Typhoon York made a direct hit on the region. AIR said that “due to the relatively low levels of damage that have been reported thus far,” it does not anticipate significant insured losses from Vicente.
Dr. Peter Sousounis, senior principal atmospheric scientist at AIR Worldwide, described “high winds and heavy rains,” which “felled up to 1,000 trees in the city, and flood damage.” However he indicated that “apart from this, Vicente’s rapidly diminishing winds are expected to have caused limited damage to roof and wall claddings of poorly constructed homes and commercial structures, and very little damage to well-built structures, within Hong Kong.”
“Farther inland on the Pearl River Delta, Guangdong, which is a major city in Guangzhou Province, received less damage primarily because it experienced much weaker winds. These weaker winds were the result of winds blowing from a direction even farther inland – a much rougher transit.”
Dr. Sousounis noted that the storm continued on a westerly course with “maximum sustained winds of 44.7 mph [71.5 mph], and has been downgraded to a tropical storm. Its center is now located about 260 kilometers (161.5 miles) west of Hong Kong. The storm is forecast to continue moving west-northwest through Guangdong Province, and cross over into Guangxi province. Although Vicente continues to weaken, it has the potential to dump 12 inches of rain in Guangxi province. Authorities have evacuated more than 42,000 people in the Guangdong city of Maoming, in the event of flash flooding and mudslides that might result from the anticipated heavy rains there.”
AIR pointed out that “Vicente had a short life. It formed on July 20th east of the Philippines and then tracked westward across Northern Luzon but stalled for a 24-hour period from July 22-23rd, which gave it time to intensify over warm water. By July 23rd, Vicente had achieved a central pressure of 950 millibars and reached its maximum intensity of 105 mph (1-minute sustained) winds. Early in its life, Vicente helped to supply the moisture that fueled the Beijing floods over the weekend.
“Vicente is expected to continue west-northwest through southern China, and may cause additional heavy rains in Guangdong and Guangxi provinces as it progresses. Although Vicente has had a notable impact on travel, communications, and businesses, Hong Kong escaped serious damage.”
Source: AIR Worldwide