Seoul: Super Typhoon Hinnamnor has gradually moved northward to reach waters off South Korea’s southern island of Jeju on Monday, the state weather agency said, as the country braces for what could be the most powerful storm ever.
As of 5 a.m., the typhoon, the 11th this year, was located 550 km south-southwest of Jeju’s Seogwipo, moving north at a speed of 22 km per hour, according to the Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA).
The speed is faster than an earlier estimate of 12 km per hour, and the typhoon is classified as “very strong”, packing a maximum sustained wind speed of 49 meters per second, reports Yonhap News Agency citing the KMA as saying.
After brushing past Jeju, Typhoon Hinnamnor is forecast to gain momentum to make landfall 80 km north-northwest of the southern port city of Busan by 9 a.m. Tuesday, with an atmospheric pressure of 955 hectopascals at its centre, according to the KMA.
The typhoon’s strength when it reaches Busan is forecast to weaken to “strong”, although it is expected to become the strongest typhoon ever to make landfall in South Korea.
Hinnamnor is forecast to maintain its strength after passing through the Korean Peninsula, the KMA said, adding that a heavy rain warning has been issued for all parts of the country until Tuesday.
The typhoon could also bring record strong winds, with the KMA forecasting maximum speeds of 40 to 60 meters per second in Jeju and other lower coastal areas between Monday night and Tuesday.
The current record is 63.7 meters per second measured in the eastern coastal city of Sokcho on October 23, 2006.
No casualties have been reported from the effects of Hinnamnor so far.
The Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters’ emergency response posture was upgraded to the highest level for the first time in five years in terms of the typhoon response.
A series of ferry services and flights were cancelled across the country.
Out of 67 domestic flights leaving the Gimpo International Airport, located just west of Seoul, as of 9 a.m. Monday, 13 had been cancelled, according to airport authorities.
Across the country, a total of 38 domestic flights were cancelled, in addition to 294, according to the Korea Airports Corporation.
The government also recommended schools skip classes or switch to online learning and private companies adjust work hours Tuesday morning, when Hinnamnor is expected to make landfall.