With Storm Noul set to make landfall in central provinces Friday afternoon, Vietnamese authorities are preparing to evacuate half a million to safety.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the eye of the tropical storm lay around 680 km to the southeast of Vietnam’s Hoang Sa (Paracel) Islands off the central coast, packing winds of 70 kph.
On Wednesday, the storm is expected to move west-northwest at a speed of 15 kph and further intensify.
As of 10 a.m. Thursday, it will lay centered around 300 km to the southeast of Vietnam’s Hoang Sa (Paracel) Islands with maximum speed of 100 kph.
Mai Van Khiem, director of the National Center for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting, said the storm is forecast to make landfall on Friday afternoon in central provinces from Quang Binh to Da Nang, home to popular tourism hotspots including Son Doong Cave, Hoi An and Hue, packing a maximum wind speed of 135 kph, according to the government news portal.
Weather forecasting centers in the U.S., Japan, and Hong Kong predict the storm would make landfall on the central coast Friday afternoon with a maximum speed of 130 kph.
Due to the impact of Storm Noul, northern and central localities should expect heavy rains of up to 300 mm a day. Rainfall of 180 mm a day is considered heavy.
From Thursday afternoon to Friday, central provinces from Quang Tri to Thua Thien-Hue would be hit by heavy rains of 300-400 mm a day. Mountainous areas could be affected by landslides while urban areas face heavy flooding.
Quang Binh, Quang Tri, Thua Thien-Hue, and Da Nang City would be heavily affected by the storm, Khiem added.
Vietnam’s Ministry of National Defense has called for the mobilization of more than 300,000 people – soldiers, members of the police force, and civilian volunteers, to assist residents in storm-hit areas.
Tran Quang Hoai, deputy head of the Central Steering Committee for Natural Disaster Prevention, said with Noul’s strength level, the committee is ready to evacuate 107,000 families, or a total 548,000 people across central coast provinces, media reports said.
In case of emergency, localities can allow students to stay home. Millions of Vietnamese students began the new academic school year on September 5 while those from Da Nang City, epicenter of the second Covid-19 wave, returned to class last Monday.
Hoai asked provincial leaders to stay in contact with fishing boats, evacuate residents to safety, and make plans to limit damage caused by the storm.
He added the storm is expected to make landfall in central provinces during a optimal high-tide period; therefore, the devastation could be great, asking localities in the area affected by the approaching storm to calculate flood discharge plans for hydropower reservoirs to ensure safety for those downstream.
Storm Noul is the fifth formed this year in the East Sea, known internationally as the South China Sea.
The year’s fourth storm, Higos, hit last month, making landfall in China.
Natural disasters like droughts, floods, and landslides killed 133 people in Vietnam last year and caused losses worth around VND7 trillion ($302.6 million), according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
In the first half of this year, they have claimed 47 lives and caused losses worth VND3.3 trillion.
The East Sea could see 11-13 storms and tropical depressions this year, half of them affecting the country, meteorologists have warned.