Be preparedTyphoon Chaba, a powerful and rare rainstorm in October, ravaged the southern resort island of Jeju and coastal regions, leaving 10 dead or missing. Industrial lines of the country’s largest automaker, Hyundai Motor in Ulsan, already suffering from lengthy strikes, has now received another blow.
Farming, industrial and commercial areas in south coastal regions took a heavy beating.
Tropical typhoons usually pass through Korea during the summer. Over the last 15 years, 45 typhoons that hit the Korean Peninsula occurred in July-August. Over the years, just three arrived in October.
The latest one was merciless. Jeju was bombarded with a waterfall rate of 660 millimeters (26 inches) per hour. Ulsan was flooded with rainfall of 100 millimeters per hour and the inundation of the Taehwa River.
Weather experts say storms can be fierce in the fall when colder air comes into contact with still-warm waters. Global warming is expected to make climate more unpredictable and typhoons more frequent.
Tropical storms occur when sea temperature goes up, and sea temperatures around the world have been on the rise. As a result, we must now prepare for typhoons in the fall.
Climate change also makes it harder to predict the direction of typhoons. The latest visitor initially was expected to pass south of Jeju Island and head to Japan, but it shifted direction to cross Jeju and hit the southern tip of Korea’s mainland.
The typhoon that should have moved along the North Pacific migratory anticyclone to head south by now expanded as far as Jeju Island because of the unusually high temperatures around the peninsula over the summer.
The timing and migration of typhoons has changed under global warming, but local weather authorities have failed to keep up. Disasters hit local areas because they have not been fully prepared against climate change.
The government must first tend to the damages and come up with a long-term defense plan for typhoons and other weather-related predicaments.
Moreover, the government must establish an upgraded forecast system and keep abreast of new climate challenges. Readiness is the best protection against natural disasters.
JoongAng Ilbo, Oct. 7, Page 34
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