Weather forecasters in Vietnam are predicting a particularly stormy typhoon season this year, with up to 15 typhoons and tropical depressions expected to develop over the East Sea (known internationally as the South China Sea).
Up from the annual average of around 12, three to four are likely to make landfall in central Vietnam, the National Center for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting said in a report for the May-October rainy season.
Typhoon Mirinae in 2016 knocked down many trees in Hanoi. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy
It also said the probability of the El Nino weather phenomenon returning this year was around 50 percent, adding that its impact in the second half of 2017 might reduce typhoons and tropical depressions over the East Sea and Vietnam.
However, El Nino would make typhoons less predictable, the weather center said.
It predicted rainfall to stay below average in the northern and central regions, while the rainy season would arrive and end in the Central Highlands and southern Vietnam earlier than usual.
The latest forecast, released last Friday, contradicted an earlier assessment by a senior meteorologist at the center, who said late last month that the rainy season would arrive later than usual.
Impact on crops
Vietnam is the world’s largest producer and exporter of robusta coffee, and also the third-biggest rice exporter after India and Thailand.
The bitter coffee variety used mostly for making instant coffee is grown in the country’s Central Highlands. An earlier-than-usual return of the rainy season could help save growers’ costs for watering trees and support cherry growth.
Further to the south, the Mekong Delta food basket may experience salination if the rainy season ends early. The region supplies 90 percent of Vietnam’s exportable rice. Salination does not only destroy fruit, rice and sugarcane crops, it also affects shrimp production.
Last year, 10 typhoons and tropical depressions developed over the East Sea, among which four of the typhoons and two tropical depressions hit Vietnam’s mainland.
While the country suffered from extreme cold spells in the north in 2016, an El Nino-induced drought in the central region and salination in the southern delta caused serious damage to the agriculture, forestry and seafood industries, which have in turn put a brake on Vietnam’s economic growth, the government has said.
Annual growth last year slowed to 6.21 percent, the slowest since 2014.