A tropical storm known internationally as Danas, but called Falcon in the Philippines, is spinning over the warm waters of the western Pacific Ocean. The storm could delay container freight at some ports in East Asia, while whipping up winds and dumping heavy amounts of rainfall.
Meteorologists originally projected Danas to hit the east coast of Taiwan. Their outlook changed when Danas began to change course a bit. According to the Taiwan News, China’s Central Weather Bureau said this evening (Wednesday, July 17), Taiwan time, that Danas’ route was likely to be further away from Taiwan’s east coast. During the afternoon, Pingtung County was dropped from land warnings first issued at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, while Taitung County and Hualien County on the east coast followed suit at 8:30 p.m. Taiwan is 12 hours later than Eastern Daylight Time.
By 7:00 p.m., the eye of the storm was located 224 miles (360 kilometers) east-southeast of Taiwan’s southernmost tip, moving to the north-northeast at around 16 mph. Its strong winds were already affecting the Bashi Channel, which separates Taiwan from the Philippines, with ferry services linking Green Island and Orchid Island to the rest of Taitung County suspended. Schools and offices closed early.
Revisions to the storm’s future path are likely, but for now Danas is heading for the East China Sea, then possible landfall in South Korea this weekend. Pre-landfall winds could be as strong as 70 mph at some point along the storm’s journey across sea surface temperatures in the mid-80s Fahrenheit. However, Danas is not expected to reach typhoon strength (winds of at least 73 mph), and winds may subside well before landfall.
Several ports lie in the zone of Danas’ possible impact path, including Taipei and Haulien on the island of Taiwan, as well as the Port of Shanghai in China and Busan Port in South Korea.
Taipei and Hualien handle mostly local cargo and cruise liners, but Shanghai is the busiest port in the world. According to the latest data from the International Association of Ports and Harbors (IAPH), the port of Shanghai ranked number one globally when it comes to the total number of twenty-foot-equivalent units (TEUs) handled in 2017 – more than 40 million. This is 20 percent more than in 2013, and total TEUs increased each year from 2013 through 2017.
Located at the southeastern tip of the Korean peninsula at the mouth of Naktong River, Busan Port serves as a major gateway connecting the Pacific Ocean and Eurasia. It’s also the largest port in South Korea. The Busan Metropolitan City website says Busan Port has nearly 20 miles (30.7 kilometers) of quay walls that can accommodate up to 201 vessels, along with loading and unloading capacity for more than 300 million tons of cargo each year. As the volume of the cargo containers passing through Busan Port steadily increases each year, the city is now working on a project to build Busan New Port. It will be capable of berthing a total of 45 vessels (40 container berths and five multi-purpose berths) simultaneously, and an annual handling capacity of 23 million TEUs. The city plans to complete the Busan New Port by 2020. Busan New Port currently has a total of 22 berths.
Even with the latest changes in the forecast track of Tropical Storm Danas, people on the island of Taiwan, as well as in eastern China and South Korea, still need to prepare for possible flooding and landslides. Rainfall totals through July 21 could approach four to eight inches in some areas, with pockets of higher amounts.
Widespread disruptions in supply chains are not likely, but short-term delays in daily operations are possible through July 21 at the aforementioned ports. Ocean transport within the potential impact zone, outlined in blue on the FreightWaves SONAR Critical Events map above, will be impacted for a while due to precautionary measures from the stronger winds and high swells at sea. Several oil refineries also lie in the impact zone, and, in addition to possible cargo delays, local businesses may close temporarily. Keep in mind that the potential impact zone may shift as forecasts are adjusted.