Typhoon Khanun Drenches South Korea


Typhoon Khanun drenched South Korea on Thursday, forcing roads and highway underpasses to close, more than a hundred flights to be grounded, thousands of trains to be suspended and more than 10,000 residents to evacuate, as it brought torrential rains and powerful winds to a region already experiencing an unusually wet and deadly storm season.

Khanun had delivered a foot of rain to parts of the country’s south by midday Thursday after making landfall on Geoje Island, off the southeast coast, at 9:20 a.m. Forecasts show that the eye of the storm is likely to pass over the greater Seoul area, home to more than half of the country’s population, around 9 p.m., before entering North Korea overnight. Rain was expected to continue in Seoul through Friday night.

The storm continued to soak Japan on Thursday, injuring at least 14 people in Kyushu, the southernmost of the country’s main islands. The town of Hinokage, in Kyushu, recorded 23 inches of rain on Wednesday, the highest amount in six years, Japanese meteorologists said. Flights remained grounded on the island, and trains were not running.

Khanun was advancing north at about 19 miles per hour on Thursday, South Korean meteorologists said. Forecasters continued to warn that the storm’s relatively slow pace would result in substantial precipitation. Parts of South Korea were expected to record about 20 inches of rain on Thursday. Officials warned residents of the danger of landslides and floods nationwide.

Khanun had maximum sustained winds of 52 m.p.h., with gusts of 63 m.p.h., in South Korea around midday on Thursday, the United States military’s Joint Typhoon Warning Center in Hawaii said. On the five-category wind scale that U.S. meteorologists use to measure hurricanes, Khanun would count as a tropical storm. It was expected to gradually lose strength as it moved over land.

Another tropical cyclone, Typhoon Lan, is also approaching the region from the Pacific Ocean. Lan was about 770 miles southeast of Japan on Thursday and was expected to approach Honshu, the country’s main island, next week. Currently packing winds of 75 m.p.h., it was forecast to strengthen to 104 m.p.h. over the weekend, according to the J.T.W.C.

South Korea has already been battered by an unusually harsh monsoon season. Last month, at least 47 people were killed, and 35 others injured, by nearly three weeks of some of the heaviest rainfall in years. Fourteen of the dead had been trapped in a flooded highway underpass.

Other East Asian countries have also had a deadly wet season. In Japan, at least six people died in Kyushu after the island was hit by what officials called “the heaviest rain ever experienced” in the region. An earlier typhoon, Doksuri, left at least 33 people dead in Beijing last week.

Khanun also left at least two people dead, 100 others injured and thousands of households without power last week in Okinawa, Japan, the country’s southernmost prefecture. At the time, the storm was moving northwest toward China, but over the weekend it charted a zigzag path over Japan’s southern islands, before doglegging north on Tuesday.

As the typhoon approached Japan and South Korea, both countries issued landslide and flood warnings and evacuation orders to residents. In South Korea, tens of thousands of teenagers who had gathered for the 25th World Scout Jamboree, and who had already been dealing with a brutal heat wave, finished evacuating their campsite on Wednesday.

Hikari Hida contributed reporting from Tokyo.



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