Typhoon Muifa threatens major Chinese port cities

Chinese authorities preparing for strong winds and torrential rains from Typhoon Muifa on Wednesday canceled flights and trains in metropolitan Shanghai and closed some of the country’s busiest commercial ports.

The closures suspended the work of millions of people as China braced for the storm which on Wednesday evening made landfall on Zhoushan Island in the eastern province of Zhejiang. The China Meteorological Administration has lifted a red alert, the strongest warning for the country’s four-tier typhoon system. Winds were recorded at around 98 mph.

The typhoon is the 12th major storm to hit China this year and could affect up to 12 provinces, state media reported. Xinhua News reported that the threat of landslides forced the evacuation of more than 1.3 million people from Zhejiang, which has one of the world’s busiest ports.

Experts say the storm was caused in part by the record high temperatures that have hit China since June, among a series of extreme weather events that scientists link to climate change.

The worst drought on record continued across large parts of the country, exacerbated by sweltering temperatures of up to 113 degrees Fahrenheit. Meanwhile, the western province of Qinghai was hit in August by flash floods that brought down mountains, leaving at least 16 people dead and nearly 20 missing.

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Earlier this month, Super Typhoon Hinnamnor barely missed the coast as it passed through the region and eventually hit the southern part of South Korea.

Collectively, these events have hurt the Chinese economy. Factories in southwest China had to temporarily shut down to conserve energy. In some areas, authorities have tried cloud seeding to boost rainfall.

The typhoon has already caused major disruptions to city operations. On Tuesday, train services in eastern China were suspended without any details on whether they would resume. Nearly 40% of China’s population lives in the eastern part of the country, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

Shanghai’s two airports, Pudong and Hongqiao, canceled nearly 600 flights on Wednesday, according to announcements made on the airport authority’s Weibo account. Pudong Airport was once the country’s third-busiest airport, but the pandemic has drastically reduced air passenger traffic to and from the city.

In low-lying urban areas, storm surges from the Yellow Sea could spill water and cause severe flooding.

Typhoon Muifa arrives ahead of the People’s Congress in Beijing – a key meeting for the Chinese Communist Party, which has prompted authorities to double down on strict covid-19 protocols and impose mandatory quarantine for millions of residents to protect themselves. ensure that the country is on track to reach “zero covid”.

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The storm is expected to continue to drift northwest in the coming days and track along the coast before turning to the northeast and dissipating near the northern Yellow Sea, according to forecasts for Wednesday morning from the US Navy Joint Typhoon Warning Center.

Meteorologists are already observing an impending tropical system that could sweep across the Japanese archipelago and the East China Sea next week.

Zach Rosenthal contributed to this report.

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