Roughly 5 billion won in damages has been caused to Jeju this year due to typhoons including the destruction of two national monuments on the island (a 600-year old tree fell on a historical building in Seongeup Folk Village, Seogwipo City), with a third typhoon expected to hit the island sometime in September.
According to Cha Yumi, research scientist with the National Typhoon Center at the Korea Meteorological Administration, Typhoon Meari, which hit Jeju on June 26, caused little damage to the island by rapidly passing over it, while Typhoon Muifa, which landed on Aug. 7, caused much destruction, including the two national monuments.
Historically, typhoons in the area generally pass over China and affect central Korea, but because of an increase in high pressure from the north they are now coming directly for the southern region of the peninsula. “This means that Jeju is in the pathway for typhoons, and the impact from strong typhoons has gradually increased,” said Cha.
Though there has not been a recent increase in the amount of typhoons in the area, climate change has caused them to be more intense. In an email interview Cha said that due to the increase in water temperature of the sea around Jeju, typhoons are picking up more speed and energy while traveling across the warm water. This results in “a greater chance of [them] becoming even stronger typhoons,” Cha said.
To better prevent catastrophic consequences by typhoons such as those seen in 2007 by Typhoon Nari, which caused Jeju to be declared a special disaster zone, The National Typhoon Center in Namwon, Seogwipo City, was established in April, 2008. Admittedly, Cha says that thought there are still errors in their five-day forecast system, it is still able to predict if and when Korea will be hit by a typhoon and within 48 hours which area will be most affected. This, Cha says, “could give enough time to prepare for a large natural disaster carried out by the typhoon, thus decrease [its] damage.”
Since the recording of typhoons began in 1923 (excluding those years during the Japanese occupation), Typhoon Sarah in 1959 had the largest death toll with 669, Typhoon Rusa in 2002 caused the most property damages nationwide at 5 trillion won, in 2003 Typhoon Maemi had the strongest wind at 60 meters per second, and Nari resulted in Jeju being declared a special disaster zone.
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