BEIJING: China issued its top warning for coastal areas of Zhejiang province Friday ahead of a very strong typhoon carrying heavy rain and winds, and expected to send an intense storm surge up the mighty Yangzte River.
Heavy rain was expected in Zhejiang, Shanghai and nearby provinces on Friday before Typhoon “Lekima” hits land on Saturday morning, then weakens as it moves north.
Parts of northern Taiwan closed offices and suspended classes at schools on Friday as the storm passed northeast of the island. The same area was hit by a magnitude 6 earthquake on Thursday that caused minor damage, but no deaths or injuries.
In Japan, areas near Okinawa would be hit by the typhoon, reports said.
The red alert China issued is the most serious in its four-tired alert system, prompting authorities to prepare evacuations, suspend train and air travel, and require vessels to return to port.
In Zhejiang, ferry service had been cancelled and more than 200 tourists evacuated from popular Beiji Island. The National Meteorological Center said Lekima was gusting at 209 kilometers per hour (kph) and traveling northwesterly at 13 kph.
The State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters warned authorities overseeing seven provinces, including Zhejiang, Fujian, Jiangsu and Shanghai Municipality to make preparations and have emergency response systems ready to be deployed.
An intense storm surge was expected to raise waters in the estuary of the Yangzte River, China’s mightiest, beginning Friday.
Three main streams of the Yangzte River are likely to exceed alert levels and the commission overseeing the river for the Ministry of Water Resources has ordered efforts to prevent floods and oversaturation of levees along the river’s banks.
Provinces on the east coast of China have been busy getting prepared as Lekima, the ninth typhoon of the year, is moving northweastward toward the mainland.
Lekima is expected to make landfall in the coastal areas of Zhejiang Province at a speed of over 15 kph on Saturday, according to the province’s disaster prevention and relief office.
The State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters issued a circular to seven provinces, including Zhejiang, Fujian, Jiangsu and Shanghai municipality, asking related authorities to launch emergency response systems in time and be well-prepared prior to the landfall of the typhoon so as to reduce potential damages.
Lekima strengthened into a typhoon Wednesday morning. Meteorological experts say the typhoon is expected to land with a rising intensity and would last for an extended period, bringing heavy rainfall.
Zhejiang would be most heavily impacted by the typhoon with extreme gusts of greater than 180 kph hitting the surrounding waters near the typhoon eye, said Ling Zhifeng, deputy head of Zhejiang’s disaster prevention and relief office.
Shanghai would see intense rainfall from Thursday to Sunday due to the typhoon and strong gusts of wind are expected to hit its coastal area, according to the city’s meteorological department.
Shandong’s weather authorities said secondary disasters such as torrential floods are likely to strike parts of the province, while rainstorms will last from Saturday night until next Monday. However, the downpours will help ease drought concerns and replenish reservoirs.
The State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters also asked related departments and authorities to intensify real-time monitoring of weather changes, issue alerts promptly by means of the internet and text messaging and launch emergency response systems before the landfall.