People struggle against the gusts in Haikou in south China's Hainan province on July 18.
Super Typhoon Rammasun came ashore over the northern tip of China's Hainan Island on early Friday morning, eastern time, bringing sustained winds of 150 miles per hour, heavy rain and a storm surge that may have exceeded 20 feet. The storm killed at least one person on Hainan Island, having made a staggeringly rapid comeback after weakening when it hit the Philippines earlier in the week.
The typhoon killed 54 people in the Philippines. In mainland China, Rammasun will go down in history as one of the top 5, or possibly even the top 3 strongest typhoons on record make landfall there.
The Xinhua News Agency said Rammasun was the most powerful storm to hit Hainan Island since 1973.
It will be a few days before the extent of the damage is fully known, but early indications are that the storm dealt a severe blow to Hainan City, where the fiercest winds in the storm's eyewall — which is a ring of towering thunderstorms surrounding the storm's calm center — first came ashore, as well as in the city of Zhanjiang and areas to its south.
The storm went from the equivalent of a Category One storm on the Saffir Simpson Hurricane Scale to a Category Five storm in just about two days, which is extremely rapid and was the result of the warm waters of the South China Sea combined with atmospheric conditions that were conducive to rapid intensification.
The rapid intensification was not well-predicted by either the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, which is operated by the U.S. Air Force and Navy, and Japan's Meteorological Agency. While intensity forecasts typically are less accurate than forecasts of a storm's track, in this case the intensity forecasts were off by an unusually large amount.
According to the Washington Post's Angela Fritz, the peninsula north of Hainan Island in the province of Guangdong may have had the worst damage due to its location in the most dangerous right front quadrant of the storm, where winds and storm surge are the strongest.
"Strong winds from the east would have pushed an enormous amount of water into the various bays and inlets along the peninsula," Fritz said.
The storm is weakening while turning southwestward, toward a third and final landfall in northeast Vietnam. It is still expected to come ashore as a typhoon, albeit not nearly as powerful a storm.
Vietnamese authorities were evacuating residents in vulnerable areas northeast of Hanoi, with flooding rains posing the biggest concern, since the storm may drop as much as a foot or more of rain in just one day.
Additional reporting by the Associated Press
Tags: CHINA, CLIMATE, RAMMASUN, SUPER TYPHOON, TYPHOON RAMMASUN, US & World, WORLD