A tree felt in the Pakhar storm in HCM City.
On late afternoon of April 1, when the Pakhar hit the city, a lot of people still traveled on streets and they did not manage to return home to avoid the storm. It was very lucky that the storm was weakened to become a tropical depression and did not cause heavy losses. Only one person was killed while he was sleeping in a tent and was killed by a falling tree.
This fact proved that local residents did not know about the storm or the seriousness of storm.
To avoid this mistake in the future, the HCM City administration has asked local agencies to inform local residents of storms by text messages.
The HCM City government has also told the Department of Transportation to plant trees that can resist strong winds along roads in the city. In the recent storm, hundreds of trees fell.
Le Thi Xuan Lan, a senior expert from the Southern Hydro-meteorological Station, said that Pakhar was an unusual storm, since statistics covering the past 40 years showed that there were only seven storms that occurred in March; only one of which affected Vietnam.
Most of the storms that formed outside of the usual season faded away when they were still at sea. During the period prior to June, the surface of the sea is usually rather cold, and thereby cannot provide enough energy for a storm to sustain itself, and such storms usually move north as well.
Pakhar, on the hand, churned for 5 days at sea, moved west-northwest, and weakened only when it entered Southern Vietnam.
The abnormal phenomenon was possibly due to the fact that climate change has caused the sea surface to warm more than usual and facilitated the storm’s development, Lan said.
She also forecast that the country may experience 6-7 storms this year, 1-2 more than the average of previous years.
Storm Pakhar claimed two lives and injured nine more, and the two who were swept away by the floods remain unaccounted for. The storm destroyed 418 houses, damaged 4,477 others sank 36 boats and flooded more than 6,700ha of rice.
Le Thanh Hai, Deputy Director of the National Hydro Meteorological Forecasting Centre said that storms and tropical depressions are now occurring more frequently in Vietnam and have become quite unpredictable.
According to Mr. Hai, storms normally begin to occur on the East Sea around May each year, and usually head towards the northern region. From August to September, they head towards the southern region.
The storm ‘Phakhar’ came early at the end of March. It intensified from a tropical depression to become the first storm to occur in the East Sea.
Earlier in mid-February, a tropical depression had taken shape on the southern parts of the East Sea but was not directed towards Vietnam.
In recent years, storms are occurring earlier and end later than their annual seasonal time. However, their numbers have not increased considerably.
Last year, typhoon ‘Washi’ occurred in December and hit southern Philippines, reporting at least 400 dead and missing. It then entered the East Sea to become the seventh storm to operate on the East Sea in 2011, thought it by-passed Vietnam.
Two more tropical depressions also occurred in the southern East Sea in November and December of the same year.
Around six or seven storms and tropical depressions are expected to directly affect Vietnam this year, which are all forecast to occur earlier than their usual annual seasonal time. Phuong Lan