Typhoon Soudelor Hits Taiwan and China with Rains, Floods & Wind: AIR Report

August 11, 2015

A report from catastrophe modeling firm AIR Worldwide, states: “Typhoon Soudelor has weakened over eastern China after making landfalls in Saipan, Taiwan, and China. The storm made landfall in Taiwan at 21:00 UTC on Saturday, August 8, approximately 32 km [51.5 kms] north-northeast of Hualien City, bringing strong winds and heavy rainfall to mainly the northern third of the island.”

AIR Worldwide senior scientist Dr. Kevin Hill said “Maximum sustained winds were approximately 193 km/h [app. 120 mph] at landfall. In the capital city of Taipei, winds gusted as high as 138 km/h [85-86 mph] in the city center, while nearby Taoyuan International Airport had wind gusts of up to 149 km/h [92.5 mph].

“Portions of the city of Taipei saw up to ~550 mm [21.45 inches] of rainfall, while the center of the city saw around 320 mm [12.48 inches]. Soudelor’s maximum observed rainfall fell short of 2009’s Typhoon Morakot due to the storm’s relatively fast motion, although up to ~1,270 mm [49.5 inches] of rainfall was reported at Datong Township in northeastern Taiwan.”

AIR’s report said Soudelor made landfall in mainland China “just after 14:10 UTC on Sunday, August 9, south of Putian City in Fujian Province. Maximum sustained winds of up to approximately 136 km/h [84.5 mph] were reported in Xiuyu District, Putian City, and rainfall amounts exceeded 300 mm [11.7 inches] in some locations. Jiuxian Shan reported the strongest wind gust in eastern China at around 143 km/h [88.8 mph].”

Dr. Hill noted that Soudelor also impacted Japan, bringing sustained winds of up to 160 km/h [100 mph] to portions of Japan’s Ryukyu Islands.”

According to initial reports, “damage in Taiwan appears to be widespread but not catastrophic,” AIR said. “A record-breaking power outage left 4 million customers without power during the storm, a record set by Typhoon Herb in 1996 at 2.79 million, according to the Taiwan Power Company.

“As of 3 p.m. local time on Saturday, August 8, government officials had reported more than 2,000 downed trees in Taipei and bus services were temporarily suspended. Taiwan’s Central Disaster Emergency Operation Center has confirmed seven deaths and more than 400 injuries from Soudelor, contributed to by a mudslide in Sanxia, New Taipei City, and strong waves in Yilan County.”

Although there were deaths on Taiwan, preparations for the storm’s arrival were quite efficient in preventing greeater loss of life. AIR reported that “at least 11,800 people had been evacuated from 17 counties and cities in Taiwan, and more than 35,000 military personnel were relocating residents as the storm crossed the island. Conditions in Taiwan as Soudelor made landfall included flying debris, storm surge, mudslides, and flooding. Reports in the storm’s aftermath have included damage to roadways and vulnerable coastal properties.

“The Chinese government estimates that Typhoon Soudelor has affected approximately 3.39 million people in China across the provinces of Zhejiang, Fujian, Anhui, and Jiangxi, displacing more than 700,000 people. Statements indicate that approximately 48,000 houses have been damaged and 3,200 structures have collapsed across the four impacted provinces. Agricultural implications for China are said to be notable, with government and regional estimates showing more than 101,000 hectares of crop area affected in Fujian and Zhejiang, and 4,700 hectares of crops damaged in Zhejiang.

“Flooding, heavy rain, and damaging winds have downed more than 10,000 trees in the city of Fuzhou. The Chinese government is currently reporting 21 Soudelor-related deaths.”

AIR described structures in Taiwan and China as “relatively well-engineered;” adding that the “mountainous terrain of Taiwan broke up the storm system significantly, thus decreasing its intensity and potential fallout. Building stock fared rather well under the severe storm conditions of Typhoon Soudelor.”

The impact on the re/insurance industry appears to minimal. Air pointed out that “much of the economic loss experienced in the impacted regions was from typically uninsured or underinsured sources, such as agriculture. Take-up rates for both China and Taiwan are relatively low, especially for residential lines of business, although some business interruption losses may be seen due to the extensive power outages and transportation interruptions.”

Source: AIR Worldwide.

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