In-Fa passing #Okinawa, #Taiwan in the crosshairs for two #typhoons?

Two storms are stalking the West Pacific, and both may hit Taiwan. Typhoon In-Fa is a category 1 (Saffir Simpson Scale) storm passing south of Okinawa over the next 24 hours. The track is further south than forecast a few days ago (about 100 miles vs 30 or so at one point), and the island should be at or below tropical storm force. The far southern Ryuku Islands of Miyako-jima won’t be so lucky if this forecast holds, as the current JTWC forecast shows a category two storm sweeping through in 36 to 48 hours. On that track the storm will pass right over the heavily populated northern tip of Taiwan, and the capital city of Taipei as a strong (but weakening) category one storm. Here’s the swath – in this case a “two-fer” as Typhoon Cempaka, making landfall south of Macau today as a weak category one storm, is expected to do a loop and return to the South China Sea before regaining strength and heading towards … Taiwan:

West Pacific Typhoons; weird rings around Cempaka are a rendering artifact due to small oscillations in intensity. Click to embiggen.

While the island is more resilient to storms than the US, it will still prove disruptive. Rains in the mountainous areas can cause flash flooding and landslides, and there are always power outages and light damage in even a minimal typhoon (hurricane – different names for the same phenomena, formally known as a “tropical cyclone”).

The South China Sea is a major potential conflict zone, with Mainland China (the People’s Republic of China or PRC) aggressively pushing claims across the region, building bases on disputed coral reefs and conducting almost daily military operations. The island nation (from the perspective of the Republic of China, the island itself) or administrative area (from the perspective of the PRC) is the subject of a major push for reunification by the mainland. The PRC’s President Xi has made it a key objective of his administration, and the propaganda has become increasingly belligerent over the last few years. The July/August issue of “Foreign Affairs” was devoted to the issue (not linked since it’s paywalled) but a summary from the BBC is at this link. Taiwan is a complex flashpoint, and having a natural disaster in the area is potentially destabilizing many levels besides the political, not the least of which are current shortages of semiconductors. Taiwan is the major global supplier of these critical components, which has been of concern for many years by those who study the increasingly vulnerable global supply chain. Globalization has economic advantages, but overspecialization of key sectors within such a small area is a bad idea because of natural hazards, much less if one of it’s neighbors is threatening to use nuclear weapons to grab it …

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