Typhoon Soudelor finally blows itself out

Most powerful storm of 2015 yet has finally expired after hitting East Asia with devastating winds and rain.

A storm surge and torrential rain combined caused widespread flooding across eastern China [EPA]

Typhoon Soudelor, the most powerful storm of 2015 yet, has finally blown itself out over China.

The Northern Mariana Islands, Taiwan and eastern China have all felt the effects of this storm over the last week.

Soudelor was the worst storm to hit the island of Saipan in almost 30 years. Gusts of almost 150 km/h flattened trees and power lines. Although nearly 400 homes were destroyed and damage worth $20m was caused, there was no loss of life.

Taiwan was not so fortunate; sustained winds of 162km/h hit the island (the equivalent of a Category 2 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale) on Thursday. These devastating winds were accompanied by rainfall of exceptional intensity. Atop Taiping Mountain, in the east of the country, more than one metre of rain was recorded.

Unsurprisingly, flash flooding and landslides added to the country’s woes through Friday, contributing to a death toll of at least eight, with several people still missing.

Damage to power lines resulted in 4.3 million homes being without electricity and agricultural losses have been estimated at $49m.

After entering the Taiwan Strait Soudelor weakened, but a storm surge of almost two metres slammed into the east coast of China on Saturday night.

Wenzhou in Zhejiang seems to have borne the brunt of the storm. 645mm of rain fell in 24 hours, the heaviest rain in more than a century.

Twenty-one people were killed, 12 of those were in Wenzhou. Economic losses in the region are estimated at $644m.

Soudelor continued to weaken into a tropical depression as it moved northwards towards the Yangtze Valley but it still gave very heavy rain across this region, too.

The western Pacific is seeing a particularly active typhoon season, partly because of El Nino and the resulting warming of the surface waters of the western Pacific.

Soudelor may well turn out to have been the most powerful typhoon of 2015, but it is very unlikely to be the last.

Source: Al Jazeera