Hurricane Hinnamnor updates: Storm heads to sea after drenching Korea

Recognition…Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

Typhoon Hinnamnor headed back out to sea on Tuesday morning after battering South Korea with heavy rain and winds overnight. There were reports of isolated flooding but damage across the country appeared limited early Tuesday.

The storm passed Jeju Island at midnight local time and made landfall on the south coast of the Korean peninsula at 4:50 a.m. before heading out to sea around 7:10 a.m. It was downgraded to strong from “super strong.” Winds of up to 96 miles per hour are being observed, the Korea Meteorological Administration said. The entire nation, with the exception of Incheon and Seoul, remained under heavy rain warnings.

There were no reports of deaths as of Tuesday morning. But heavy rain and high winds tore down trees and walls, causing flooding and power outages across South Korea. In South Gyeongsang Province, where 2,000 people had been evacuated from their homes, fire departments responded to about 200 typhoon-related emergencies early Tuesday morning.

“The winds were crazy and it was pouring down,” said Kim Sun-myeong, who manned a supermarket in the southern city of Busan on Tuesday morning, adding that another store across the street was closed due to the typhoon.

The winds had calmed down and the rain stopped around 7 a.m., he said. The city’s train and bus services have been restored and access to some streets has been restored. But the wind had destroyed the exterior lights that illuminated Mr. Kim’s store sign.

“A giant bird got soaked from the rain and is tumbling on our legs on our street,” he said.

This is the second major storm to hit the country in a few weeks. Last month, the capital Seoul experienced its heaviest downpour in decades, causing flooding that killed at least nine people. The storm damaged some subway stations and caused minor power and water outages. President Yoon Suk-yeol pledged measures to prevent such damage from happening again.

The Korea Meteorological Administration said most of the nation would see four to 12 inches of rain and winds topping out at 134 miles per hour. Over the weekend, the government issued its most severe typhoon warning, the highest alert level in five years.

Storms during this rainy season have been particularly strong, and forecasters said the force of Hinnamnor could be comparable to that of two devastating typhoons two decades ago, Rusa and Maemi. In 2002, Typhoon Rusa swept across the country, killing dozens and destroying more than a million homes. The following year, Typhoon Maemi killed more than 100 people and caused $1.6 billion in damage.

The terms typhoon and hurricane refer to tropical cyclones and are applied to storms based on where they form. Typhoons develop in the Northwest Pacific and usually affect Asia. Hurricanes form in the North Atlantic, the Northeast Pacific, the Caribbean or the Gulf of Mexico.

In the Atlantic, major hurricanes are defined as tropical cyclones with maximum sustained winds of 111 mph or greater and defined as either Category 3, 4, or 5 storms. But in the Asia-Pacific region, there are differences in the way countries assess typhoons.

The links between tropical storms and climate change are becoming increasingly apparent. Researchers have found that warming has increased the frequency of large storms because a warmer ocean provides more energy to fuel them.

South Korea was hit by flooding late Monday on Jeju Island, about 60 miles south of the Korean Peninsula, where businesses and public facilities were temporarily closed and some flights and ferry services were cancelled.

Cities have mobilized to prepare for the storm, with Busan dispatching 7,600 emergency response officers and temporary closures of elementary and middle schools in Seoul.

Jin Yu Young and

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