Typhoon Molave slams Vietnam with damaging winds, heavy rainfall

Maura Kelly

Typhoon Molave displaced more than 100,000 in the Philippines over the past weekend as it lashed the country with fierce winds and torrential rain. Now, the storm is sweeping through areas of Vietnam that have faced three named tropical systems already this month.

Ahead of the storm, officials were preparing to evacuate 1.3 million residents along the coast of central Vietnam, according to Reuters. Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc also urged provinces in the typhoon's path to prepare by bringing boats ashore.

This satellite image shows Typhoon Molave closing in on the Vietnam coast on Wednesday morning, local time. (CIRA/RAMMB)

The prime minister also stated that the military will be on standby to support residents and provide transportation with tanks and helicopters if needed.

The powerful typhoon made landfall in central Vietnam just prior to midday Wednesday, local time, according to VnExpress International. At landfall, the typhoon had the equivalent strength of a Category 2 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale in the Atlantic and East Pacific basins. Molave lost some wind intensity just prior to landfall after spending some time with the equivalent strength of a Category 3 major hurricane.

Molave is the fourth named tropical system to make landfall over Vietnam since Oct. 11, according to AccuWeather Lead International Meteorologist Jason Nicholls. It is also the country's sixth landfalling storm this year.

Fierce winds were already beginning to whip ahead of Molave's landfall, with a local news agency reporting nearly 82,000 customers had lost power in the province of Phú Yên by Wednesday morning, local time.

Twenty-six people are missing after two fishing vessels sank while trying to seek shelter from the powerful typhoon in the province of Binh Dinh on Tuesday night, according to VnExpress International.

At least two people were killed while trying to protect their homes from the storm in the province of Quang Ngai, according to AFP.

"A narrow corridor along the path of Molave will see wind gusts of 95-130 km/h (60-80 mph), resulting in significant property damage potential with disruption to electrical power and transportation," stated Nicholls. He added that a small area near and to the north of the center of the storm could receive wind gusts of 130-160 km/h (80-100 mph).

In this area the AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 195 km/h (120 mph) will be most likely.

As of Wednesday evening, local time, Molave had lost enough wind intensity that it was designated a tropical storm over western Vietnam.

While the wind threat will continue to wane through Thursday, local time, as the storm rapidly weakens over the rugged terrain of the region, heavy rainfall will persist into the end of the week across Indochina.

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"Rainfall across central Vietnam will reach at least 100-200 mm (4-8 inches) in an area near and north of landfall," Nicholls added. "There will be an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 400 mm (16 inches), most likely in Vietnam, potentially in areas that have already received extreme rainfall and flooding in October."

Due to the copious amounts of rainfall across central Vietnam and surrounding areas in recent weeks, widespread flooding is expected from Molave. Additional rainfall from this typhoon will destabilize mountain slopes across the region, increasing the risk for mudslides.

Additionally, heavy rainfall will spread north into Hainan, China, and west into Thailand. Across these areas rainfall totals of 50-100 mm (2-4 inches) will be common.

While widespread flooding is expected from this system, Molave's quick pace over the peninsula will keep rainfall totals from climbing even higher.

Typhoon Molave is a 3 on the AccuWeather RealImpact™ Scale for Tropical Cyclones in Vietnam due to the heavy rainfall and dangerous wind gusts expected. The scale was created by the company in 2019 to offer a more comprehensive outlook for tropical cyclone impacts than the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.

Molave first developed into a tropical depression to the east of the Philippines late last week and was given the name Quinta by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration. Molave is the name used by the Japanese Meteorological Agency for the part of the basin that falls under the agency's purview.

The storm quickly strengthened into a typhoon with sustained winds of 120 km/h (75 mph) before making its first landfall over San Miguel, Philippines, on Sunday evening, local time. This is equivalent to a Category 1 hurricane in the Atlantic and East Pacific tropical basins.

Widespread rainfall totals of 100-200 mm (4-8 inches) were reported in the northern and central Philippines. More than 120,000 people have been displaced by the storm, and at least eight are missing.

As of Wednesday afternoon, local time, at least four deaths have been blamed on the typhoon in the Philippines, ABS-CBN reported.

A State of Calamity was declared early Tuesday, local time, for the the city of Batangas, Philippines, due to "widespread destruction and substantial damage" caused by Molave.

Typhoon Molave may not be the last tropical threat for the area into the beginning of November as AccuWeather meteorologists will be monitoring numerous areas for potential development.

Keep checking back on AccuWeather.com and stay tuned to the AccuWeather Network on DirecTV, Frontier and Verizon Fios.