Typhoon Maysak swirled ashore southwest of Busan, South Korea, on Wednesday, lashing the port city with pounding surf, damaging winds and heavy rain just a week after Typhoon Bavi affected the country on its way to a rare landfall in North Korea. As of Wednesday morning EDT, the storm was packing maximum sustained winds of 105 mph, making it the equivalent of a Category 2 storm.
Maysak is just the sixth Category 2 or greater storm to hit South Korea since reliable records began in 1951, and it is the fourth typhoon to strike the Korean Peninsula during the ongoing western Pacific typhoon season. That ties the record for the most storms making landfall in a single season, according to Sayaka Mori, a meteorologist for NHK World.
According to Mori, Maysak may set a low-pressure record for South Korea at 950 millibars. In general, the lower the pressure, the stronger the storm, and the typhoon’s minimum central air pressure indicates that, although it has weakened since it peaked as a Category 4 storm early in the week, it remains formidable for this part of the world.
The storm’s track places Busan, which is South Korea’s second-largest city and the world’s sixth-busiest port, in the most dangerous part of the typhoon, where winds and storm-surge flooding tend to be maximized. As of Wednesday at midday EDT, the airport in Busan was observing sustained winds of 74 mph, gusting to 79 mph.
The Associated Press reports that hundreds of flights were canceled in the run-up to Maysak, while North Korea prepared for heavy rains that could cause significant flooding in the wake of Bavi, which struck there during the final week of August.
Maysak passed to the southeast of the resort island of Jeju, bringing heavy rains and strong winds but sparing the area its full fury.
South Korea’s weather agency is highlighting potential damage due to “very strong winds and very hard rain.” The typhoon comes on the heels of an unusually extended monsoon season that left parts of the country particularly susceptible to flooding.
The storm appears to have caused the loss of a ship in the East China Sea, with 43 crew members aboard. One person has been rescued, and the Japanese coast guard is searching for others. The ship encountered Maysak while en route from New Zealand to China.
Ominously, a third typhoon that is expected to become quite intense lurks behind Maysak. Typhoon Haishen formed Tuesday and is forecast to move north-northwestward over the warmer-than-average waters of the western Pacific Ocean, gathering strength as it does so. The official forecast from the Joint Typhoon Warning Center shows the storm peaking at the equivalent of Category 4 intensity, but there is a chance it could intensify further and become a super-typhoon.
NHK World’s Mori has shown that the ocean waters off the coast of Japan and in much of the western Pacific are at or near record highs for this time of year, favoring typhoon formation and intensification.
The storm’s predicted track is an unusual one, since typically such storms would approach Japan and turn northeastward while weakening and curving back out into the typhoon graveyard that is the northern Pacific Ocean.
Instead, an area of high pressure to the northeast of Japan will block that route and push the storm across southern Japan, with landfall expected in southeastern Kyushu, and then into South Korea by Monday. Japan’s meteorological agency is warning that the storm could be one of the strongest to hit the country in about 70 years.
If Haishen then goes on to make landfall in South Korea as anticipated, it would break the record for the most typhoon landfalls in a single season. The Korean Peninsula typically sees just one storm make landfall annually.