SEOUL — South Korea issued warnings on bad weather and raised its typhoon alert level to its highest as typhoon Hinnamnor neared on Monday, with heavy rain and strong wind already lashing southern parts of the country.
Responding to the progress of the typhoon, companies in the country said they have either curtailed operations or are contemplating doing so.
Traveling northward at a speed of 19 km per hour (12 mph), Hinnamnor is expected to make landfall 90 kilometers southwest of the port city of Busan early on Tuesday, after reaching waters off Jeju Island around Monday midnight.
“Very strong winds and heavy rains are expected across the country through to Tuesday due to the typhoon, while there will be places where very high waves cross breakwaters and coastal roads along with storm and tsunami,” the Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA) said.
While typhoons are classified into four categories – medium, strong, very strong, super strong – Hinnamnor is expected to reach the country as a “very strong” typhoon, according to the KMA. Typhoons under that classification have wind speeds of up to 53 meters per second.
Warnings have been issued across the southern cities, including Gwangju, Busan, Daegu and Ulsan, following that in the southern island of Jeju, while the Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures Headquarters on Sunday upgraded its typhoon alert level to the highest among its four-tier system, the first time in five years.
On Sunday, President Yoon Suk-yeol met with authorities to review the response system, while promising to put all efforts in minimizing damage from the typhoon.
Busan city and its neighboring areas have received rain throughout the weekend, with more rain forecast for Monday and Tuesday.
Steelmaker POSCO told Reuters it is considering suspending some of its production processes in the city of Pohang on Tuesday, while SK Innovation, owner of South Korea’s top refiner SK Energy, said it asked carrier ships not to operate until the typhoon passes.
Responding to local media reports over the planned halts of their operations, South Korean shipbuilders Korea Shipbuilding & Offshore Engineering, Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME) and Samsung Heavy Industries, DSME said a decision on suspending its operations will be made later on Monday.
Korean Air Lines and Asiana Airlines have canceled most of their Monday flights to Jeju Island, according to their websites, while budget airlines such as Air Seoul and Jin Air have canceled some of their flights. (Reporting by Joori Roh; Additional reporting by Joyce Lee and Heekyong Yang; Editing by Kim Coghill and Muralikumar Anantharaman)