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Chinese Floods Kill 250 During Past Week: Earth's 4th Deadliest Disaster of 2013

By: Dr. Jeff Masters, 3:07 PM GMT on August 22, 2013

Typhoon Trami hit Southeast China on Wednesday as a Category 1 storm with 85 mph winds, after dumping torrential rains in the Philippines that killed 17 people. Trami's rains are creating new flooding flooding problems for a Chinese nation already reeling from a week of deadly floods that have left over 250 people dead or missing. Twenty-one of the deaths came on Tuesday evening, due to a flash flood in northwest China's Qinghai Province. The deadliest incident came earlier this week, when torrential rains caused the Nei River in northeastern Liaoning province to overflow near the city of Fushuan, killing 54 people and leaving 97 missing. It's been a disastrous summer for flooding in China. According to the July 2013 Catastrophe Report from insurance broker Aon Benfield, the 250 people killed in the past week of flooding in China make this disaster Earth's fourth deadliest natural disaster of 2013. The deadliest was the monsoon flood in India and Nepal in June that killed 6,500; the second deadliest was the severe winter weather that hit India, Bangladesh, and Nepal in January, killing 329; the third deadliest was flooding in China in mid-July that left 305 people dead or missing. China had three billion-dollar flooding disasters in July:

June 29 - July 3, Southwestern, Central, Eastern, and Northern China: $1.4 billion in damage, 4 deaths
July 7 - 17, nearly every section of China,: $4.5 billion in damage, 305 dead or missing
July 21 - 25, Jilin, Gansu, Heilongjiang, Xinjiang, and Sichuan provinces: $1.4 billion in damage, 36 deaths

One positive note: Trami's rains are falling over portions of China that are in moderate to exceptional drought. The 2013 drought in China has been that nation's most expensive natural disaster of the year, costing over $10 billion.

Figure 1. MODIS satellite image of Typhoon Trami taken at 02:45 UTC on August 21, 2013, as the storm approached the northern tip of Taiwan. At the time, Trami had maximum sustained winds of 75 mph. Image credit: NASA.

Figure 2. Workers use excavator to clean up mud after heavy rain hit on August 19, 2013 in Fushuan, in the Liaoning Province of China. The Nei River overflowed, killing 54 and leaving 97 missing in Fushuan. Photo by ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images.

Video 1. Shiman Dam in Northern Taiwan releases gargantuan fountains of flood waters on August 22, 2013, after Typhoon Trami dumped over 300 mm (11.81") of rain in 24 hours. Video taken by storm chaser James Reynolds, and brought to my attention by wunderground member Robert Speta.

Quiet in the Atlantic
There are no tropical disturbances of note in the Atlantic today. This morning's 00Z run of the Navy's NAVGEM model called for formation of a tropical storm early next week midway between Africa and the Lesser Antilles Islands, from a tropical wave expected to emerge from the coast of Africa on Friday. However, this forecast is dubious, as none of the other models is calling for tropical cyclone formation in the Atlantic during the coming week. The tropical Atlantic is dominated by dry, stable air, and a new outbreak of dust and dry air will exit the coast of Africa this weekend, keeping the Tropical Atlantic dry though at least Thursday, August 29. Dry air coming off the coast of Africa may abate some after that, as the long-range models call for the Azores High to shift more to the northeast. An upper level low pressure system is also likely to dig southwards from the Azores during the middle of next week, bringing high wind shear to the tropical Atlantic between Africa and the Lesser Antilles Islands. The NAVGEM also predicted that a tropical storm would form in the Southern Gulf of Mexico's Bay of Campeche early next week, but this also seems unlikely, due to high wind shear from from an upper level low, plus a dry northeasterly flow. The best chance of development this month in the Atlantic would appear to be from a tropical wave predicted to move off the coast of Africa on August 29.

In the Eastern Pacific, Tropical Depression 9-E has formed, about 390 miles SSW of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Cold waters off the coast of Baja California will likely keep TD 9-E from strengthening into a hurricane, and the storm is not expected to make landfall in Mexico. However, moisture from TD 9-E will stream into Northwest Mexico and possibly the Southwest U.S. 3 - 5 days from now, which could triggering flash flooding. The European and GFS models predict formation of a second tropical storm that will follow a similar path to TD 9-E late next week, along the west coast of the Baja Peninsula.

Jeff Masters


The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.