Fewer but stronger typhoons are expected to hit Vietnam this year ahead of a harsh drought brought on by El Niño conditions, meteorologists said
“Vietnam may suffer from 5-6 typhoons this year,” said, Hoang Duc Cuong, director of the National Center for Hydro-meteorology Forecasting. "That's fewer than previous years but we expect them to be of higher magnitude."
Cuong was speaking at a teleconference Wednesday held by the Central Committee for Flood and Storm Control and Prevention, one month after Typhoon Rammasun swept through northern provinces, killing 27 people.
“We expect Vietnam will have 5-6 typhoons approaching from the East Sea, including 2-3 strong ones that will hit inland,” he said.
According to the meteorology center, there will be heavy rains in northwestern provinces that could trigger landslides and flashfloods.
“Landslides and flashfloods are occurring more often. It’s abnormal because the rainfall is lower than last year,” Cuong said, adding that a total of 17 typhoons and tropical depressions hit Vietnam in 2013.
Landslides and flashfloods have killed 24 people in northern provinces so far this year.
Cuong said the storm season will end earlier this year due to El Niño-type weather conditions and cautioned people to prepare for a long nationwide drought that will last through 2015.
The drought is expected to hit Vietnam's northern mountain provinces the hardest under El Niño, which has already raised temperatures and lowered the water levels.
The drought is expected to arrive in early November of this year, lowering the average water levels in northern rivers 10-30 percent upstream and nearly 40 percent downstream, according to the meteorological center.