China experiences more tropical cyclone landfalls than any of its neighbors in the Northwest Pacific, and Fujian is one of the Chinese provinces most often affected by typhoons. However, exposures in the province are somewhat protected by Taiwan, which lies directly to the east across the Taiwan Strait. Although storms that cross the mountainous terrain of Taiwan may regain typhoon status before making landfall on China’s mainland coast, they are typically weakened. Even these weakened storms, however, can bring heavy rainfall and significant flooding, which can contribute more to insured losses than typhoon winds. The region experiences 10 times as many weak typhoons as strong ones.
Nepartak made landfall Saturday at 1:45 p.m. local time (05:45 UTC) in Shishi City on the coast of Fujian, maintaining winds of 90 km/hr (56 mph). In addition to gusty winds at landfall, heavy precipitation fell, with 250 mm (9.8 in) recorded in the city of Putian. The storm system weakened into a strong tropical storm as it progressed into Jiangxi province on Sunday and then dissipated.
Exposure at Risk
The province of Fujian is often described as "eight parts mountain, one part water, and one part farmland." The capital, Fuzhou, is located on the coast and has a population of more than 7 million. The economy of coastal Fujian benefits greatly from its proximity to Taiwan and because of its industry and the presence of many foreign firms, Fujian is one of China’s more affluent provinces.
Historically, the dominant construction types in China are unreinforced masonry made from adobe or brick, or brick with a light wood frame. These construction types are still ubiquitous throughout rural China. Most urban dwellers live in mid-rise or high-rise apartment buildings, many of which have commercial establishments on the ground floor. Mid-rise buildings are often confined masonry, while high-rises tend to be reinforced concrete. China has a diverse commercial/industrial building stock, which is generally more resistant to wind and water damage than residential buildings.
At least six deaths have been reported in China as a result of Typhoon Nepartak, and eight people are missing. In Fujian, damaged power stations left areas without electricity. It is still too early for comprehensive damage reports to emerge from the region. Numerous landslides have already been reported in rural and mountainous areas, one of which trapped 18 iron workers in a factory in Fujian’s Gutian County. Roads have been damaged or inundated, and part of a highway flyover collapsed in Minqing County. Many buildings are reported to have collapsed, and firefighters have rescued 43 people from two inundated residential buildings in Putian.
Because of an extended period of unusually heavy rain, southern China was already experiencing unprecedented amounts of flooding and crop damage before Nepartak. Along the Yangtze River and its tributaries, 164 people have been killed by hail and rain-induced flooding since June 30, 1.84 million people evacuated, and 56,000 houses and 560,500 hectares of crops destroyed according to local authorities’ estimates.
The extent of flood losses and crop damage that can be directly attributed to Typhoon Nepartak is highly uncertain because of the pre-existing conditions.