Typhoon Mujigae Hits So. China; Strongest Cyclone to Hit Region: AIR Worldwide

October 9, 2015

Typhoon Mujigae – also called Kabayan – made landfall in China’s Guangdong Province on October 4 with reported wind speeds up to 135 miles per hour (217 kilometers per hour) in some locations.

Mujigae quickly moved from a Category 3 to a Category 4 storm on the on the Saffir-Simpson scale, surprising forecasters and the underprepared coastal region, according to catastrophe modeling firm AIR Worldwide.

The Guangdong Provincial Meteorological Bureau reported that Typhoon Mujigae was the strongest tropical cyclone to ever make landfall in the province, AIR confirmed in an update on the storm.

“Mujigae struck the city of Zhanjiang on October 4, battering fishing boats, causing extensive blackouts and travel disruptions, and destroying thousands of homes in the densely populated coastal region,” said Dr. Anna Trevino, scientist at AIR Worldwide. “Several powerful tornadoes were spawned and heavy rains caused deadly landslides in western Guangdong.”

AIR noted that tornadoes are rare for this region of China, but they can occur during a tropical cyclone.

“Mujigae is the 22nd named storm to form in the Northwest Pacific basin in 2015, and the sixth storm to make landfall in China,” said Trevino.

“The five previous tropical cyclones struck China during the summer months of June through August, with the exception of Dujuan, which made landfall at Category 1 on September 29. With a few months remaining in the tropical cyclone season, it is possible for China to see more landfalling storms,” she continued.

According to state authorities, approximately 6 million people were affected by the typhoon, including 3.5 million in Guangdong Province, more than 2 million in neighboring Guangxi Province, and nearly half a million in Hainan Province.

The typhoon caused widespread power outages, cut off water supplies and communications networks in some areas, grounded dozens of flights, and suspended high-speed trains. Trees were toppled, vehicles were overturned, streets were flooded, and roofs were ripped off of homes. Damage has also been reported to industrial facilities, including to crucial infrastructure of the region’s steel plants, according to AIR.

The region affected by Typhoon Mujigae has seen rapid development in recent years and contains both urban and rural areas, AIR said. Houses in coastal regions of Guangdong are commonly masonry or reinforced concrete with clay tile roofs, and could experience damage primarily to the building envelope at the storm’s wind speeds. Better-engineered apartment buildings are also common, and these may experience significant nonstructural damage, especially to roofs and wall claddings.

Low Insurance Penetration

Insurance penetration for typhoon coverage is low in China, particularly for residential risks. When coverage exists, wind and flood generally are covered together, in the same policy, AIR explained.

The majority of insured losses will result from wind and flood damage to commercial and industrial buildings, the company added. Light metal industrial buildings are especially vulnerable to typhoons. Agricultural damage is also expected, particularly to rice, the region’s leading crop.

“The center of the storm came ashore some 400 km [259 miles] away from Hong Kong, where the region’s heaviest concentration of insured exposure is located,” said Trevino. “No severe damage was reported in Hong Kong, which will help limit total insured losses.”

Source: AIR Worldwide

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