Super Typhoon Meranti: 2016’s most powerful cyclone

Catastrophic typhoon grazes Taiwan but has China in its sights.

Super Typhoon Meranti has become the strongest cyclone, hurricane or typhoon, of 2016 and is one of three most powerful typhoons ever recorded.

the Japan Meteorological Agency analysed Meranti’s central pressure at 890 millibars. This puts Meranti in the short list of the deepest tropical cyclones ever recorded anywhere on Earth

The eye of this Super Typhoon passed to the south of Taiwan early on Wednesday.

At least 200,000 households were reported as losing power.

The winds came in from the east so the cities to the lee of the mountains, for example Kaohsiung, were afforded some shelter from the brute force that hit the east coast.

The Chinese mainland will not be as lucky.

As it passed Taiwan, Meranti had sustained winds of 290km an hour (kph), and gusts of 350kph.

This makes it the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane on the five-point Saffir-Simpson scale.

Meranti will sustain most of its current strength of winds due to high sea temperatures (30 C), low wind shear [change of wind speed and direction with height], and high atmospheric humidity.

Little interaction with the island of Taiwan means that the cyclone will maintain its structure. This will result in Meranti striking the Chinese mainland probably as a Category 4 equivalent storm.

The coastline of Guangdong and especially Fujian is now at risk of large waves, a storm surge well in excess of two metres and damaging winds, exceeding those experienced during Super Typhoon Nepartak.

Landfall of the eye, around which scream the strongest winds, is due at 18:00 GMT on Wednesday.

Typhoon strength winds will likely affect 20 million people.

Meranti will strike the Chinese mainland probably as a Category 4 equivalent storm [AFP]
Meranti will strike the Chinese mainland probably as a Category 4 equivalent storm [AFP]

The effects are likely to be far worse than those of the most recent typhoon to hit Fujian, Nepartak.

Meranti is the fourth Category 5 equivalent storm of 2016, following Winston, Fantala and Nepartak.

Nepartak had a very similar track to the one Meranti is expected to follow. It, struck southern Taiwan, killing two people, before hitting mainland China at Fujian.

Here, at least 83 people died and damage was estimated at $1.5bn.

All this coincides with the release of a study which concludes that the typhoons of the northwestern Pacific have increased in strength over the past 40 years.

The research, by the University of North Carolina, found that the frequency of the strongest cyclones (Category 4 to 5) increased from once a year, to four times a year.

The researchers ascribed the increased frequency to a warming of around 0.8C in Asian coastal waters, although their research did not consider the reasons for that increase.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies