Sunday, July 25, 2010

South China coast braces for tropical storm

(News Today) - A tropical storm has shifted direction away from Hong Kong and is expected to make landfall in South China early Thursday, adding more weather woes to a region that's already been deluged, causing suffering to millions.

Tropical Storm Chanthu is forecast to hit China's Guangdong and Hainin provinces as a severe tropical storm, according to the Hong Kong Observatory.

Chanthu was about 260 miles (420 kilometers) south of Hong Kong Wednesday afternoon and was forecast to move northwest at about 6 mph (10 km/hr), edging closer to the coast. The observatory said the storm has slowed down and is taking more westerly track. The storm is expected to strengthen as landfall approaches.

The Joint Typhoon Warning Center said the storm is packing sustained winds of 63 mph, which are expected to grow to nearly 75 mph. The center is operated by the U.S. Navy and Air Force in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

The storm is expected come ashore late early Thursday, local time.

This latest storm comes on the heels of major flooding and landslides across much of the nation with more than 700 people dead and hundreds more missing, China's vice minister of water resources Liu Ning told reporters in Beijing on Wednesday.

More than 700 dead in Chinese floods

Regions affected include Sichuan province and Shaanxi province. Of particular concern is the massive Three Gorges Dam in Hubei province. With the Yangtze River already running at record levels, engineers have opened up the flood gates.

The Yangtze is fed by three major tributaries, and it flows east, from Sichuan, toward the dam. Water flows near the dam are comparable to record flows during devastating floods in China in 1998.

The Three Gorges, the world's largest dam, was completed last year. So far, it is holding up.

Xinhua quoted Yuan Jie, director of the dam's cascade dispatching center, as saying that, "Compared to 1998, the biggest difference is the Three Gorges Dam. Without it, thousands of soldiers and rescuers would have been needed to fight the floods."

Elsewhere, more than 230,000 people have been evacuated from the city of Guangan in Sichuan, after the worst flooding there in 160 years. There's no power, no clean water, and the only way around is by boat.

The wild weather also has cut off roads, flattened homes, destroyed power facilities and flooded farmland in Ankang City, the worst-hit area, Xinhua reported. Flood control authorities say the lives of nearly 1.5 million people have been disrupted by flooding in 23 counties and cities in the southern regions of the province.

Other areas that have been inundated include the city of Chongquing, and Anhui and Hunan provinces, according to Xinhua. Altogether, more than 9 million people have been affected by floods and landslides, it said.

According to the observatory website, the outer rain bands of Chanthu may affect Hong Kong overnight and local winds will gradually increase.

The government weather website said that since there will be swells, people are advised to stay away from the shoreline and not engage in water sports. All small vessels, including low-power vessels and fishing vessels in open seas, should seek shelter as soon as possible, the government said.

Source : CNN

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