National Typhoon Center “The sea level in the western Pacific is already 30 degrees… ‘Anomalous typhoon’ is coming again this year”

Kim Dong-jin, a forecaster, explains the weather conditions displayed on the status board in the office on the second floor of the National Typhoon Center in Seogwipo, Jeju. Jeju = Correspondent Kim Jin-ju

“Can you see the eastern coast of the Philippines here? Normally, when the sea surface temperature is above 26 degrees, the likelihood of a typhoon increases, but it is already 29 to 30 degrees.

At the National Typhoon Center in Seogwipo, Jeju, on the 25th, Kim Dong-jin, a forecaster, pointed to the status board filling one wall and explained: The situation this year is similar to this time last year. The sea surface temperature near the eastern Pacific is lower than usual due to the influence of La Niña, and the western Pacific in the eastern part of the Philippines is higher than normal. The current status board clearly shows that a long cloud belt is currently in the vicinity of the western Pacific Ocean. If this cloud belt gradually develops into a typhoon, some of them will affect Korea.

Typhoons usually ascend toward Korea along the edge of the North Pacific high pressure, but last year’s typhoons were affected by various barometers, making it difficult to predict their course. Ham Dong-ju, head of the National Typhoon Center, said, “There is a high possibility that there will be typhoons with irregular paths like last year.” A total of 22 typhoons occurred worldwide in the past year. Three of them affected the Korean Peninsula, but fortunately, the damage was not great.

A view of the National Typhoon Center in Seogwipo, Jeju. provided by the Korea Meteorological Administration

The more difficult it is to predict, the greater the damage

Experts at the National Typhoon Center said, “Typhoon prediction is getting more and more difficult.” In 2019, the number of typhoons that affected the Korean Peninsula in one year was the highest recorded with 7 typhoons, while 4 typhoons affected the following year. 2021 is also an exceptionally year without typhoons in July. Last year, typhoon Jinro had a particularly difficult time forecasting due to unexpected winds.

Meanwhile, typhoon damage is increasing. According to the disaster annual report of the Ministry of the Interior and Safety, typhoons accounted for 50.2% of the major causes of property damage over the past 10 years (2008-2017), accounting for more than half. The international scientific journal ‘Natural Seabed Review’ predicted that typhoon and flood damage will reach up to 23 trillion won in 2060 due to global warming.

The only way to minimize damage is to increase forecasting accuracy. If the typhoon forecasting accuracy is increased by 20%, the damage can be reduced by 30 billion won per year, and when the lead time is shortened by 20 minutes, the damage can be reduced by 100 billion won per year, including 70 billion won per year. “The error in predicting the 72-hour course of a typhoon has been cut in half in the last 10 years (2010-20),” said Ham.

Ham Dong-ju, head of the National Typhoon Center, explains the characteristics of recent typhoons at the National Typhoon Center in Seogwipo, Jeju, on the 25th. provided by the Korea Meteorological Administration

At least 6 hours to create a single line of information

The National Typhoon Center was established in 2008 after typhoon ‘Rusa’ in 2002 followed by typhoon ‘Maemi’ the following year, and the need for a typhoon forecasting agency emerged. Once a typhoon occurs, massive data is analyzed for over six hours to generate relevant information. It is expected that it will affect the Korean Peninsula and when the alert is triggered, the two-person team will start working 24 hours a day. “Every summer, we spend a time like a war,” said Kim.

The center is preparing a new typhoon risk detailed information service to be introduced from July. Previously, only the location of the center of the typhoon and the area where the wind speed would exceed 15 m/s was suggested, but this year, the maximum wind speed value and time point for each region are displayed on the map. “We will provide more detailed and kinder typhoon information,” said Ham.

Jeju Jinju Kim reporter

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