Half of the approximately 20 tropical cyclones expected to form in the western Pacific Ocean through September this year are forecast to make landfall in East Asian countries, forecasters said Friday, making the season more intense than usual.
Tropical cyclones, also known as typhoons and hurricanes, can reach wind speeds ranging from 63 kph (39 mph) to 250 kph (155 mph), and the accompanying rain and storm surge can devastate coastal regions.
According to the EM-DAT international catastrophe database, these storms have wreaked more than $175 billion worth of havoc across Asia over the past decade.
Five storms are forecast to make landfall in the regions of eastern China and Taiwan, southern China and Vietnam, and the Philippines, according to meteorologists at the City University of Hong Kong, while Japan and Korea may experience only two.
This total exceeds the 30-year average for the region, which is 13.5 cyclones in the months of April through September, according to the forecast.
“The number of tropical cyclones expected to form between April 1 and September 3 is somewhere between normal and below normal,” adds Guy Carpenter University’s Asia-Pacific Climate Impact Center in its forecast.
Global warming is making storms increasingly fierce, atmospheric scientists warn, although their total number is expected to stay the same or decrease in the future.
Rising air and sea surface temperatures contribute to stronger storms, with the potential for faster winds and heavier rainfall.
With temperatures above the global average, the western Pacific Ocean experiences more storms than any other part of the world.
In mid-April, Surigae, the first super typhoon of the year, hit the coast of the Philippines and forced the evacuation of more than 100,000 people.
But most storms develop after July.
Last month, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecast an above-normal 2021 Atlantic hurricane season, which officially began June 1.
Out of a total of 13 to 20 tropical storms in 2021, it forecast that three to five major hurricanes would have winds with sustained speeds of at least 111 mph (178 kph), while six to 10 would have winds of at least 74 mph (119 kph).