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Royal Observatory Hong Kong: Tropical Cyclones in 1989

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2. TROPICAL CYCLONE SUMMARIES FOR 1989

In 1989, there were 34 tropical cyclones over the western North Pacific and the adjacent seas bounded by the equator, 45oN, 100o E and 180o . This is the first time since 1978 that the annual average (1951-1980) of 32 tropical cyclones is exceeded. The number of tropical cyclones attaining typhoon intensity is 21, which is also higher than the annual average of 16. The monthly distributions of the frequency of first occurrence of tropical cyclones and that of typhoons for 1989 are shown in Figure 2. The monthly mean frequencies of these two parameters during the years 1951-1980 are shown in Figure 3.

Eleven tropical cyclones affected the South China Sea, of which only three developed within the basin. The rest moved into the region after traversing the Philippines. However, the South China Sea had an unusually barren spell in August and September when it was nearly devoid of tropical cyclone activity. It would have been the first time on record that this happened if Brian had not formed on the last day of September. While southern Vietnam had a very quiet year, the northern part was affected by eight tropical cyclones, of which three made their passages via Hainan. In the south, there was the rare occurrence of a tropical cyclone developing within the Gulf of Thailand and subsequently hitting southern Thailand as a mature typhoon. Over southern China, western Guangdong was hit by two typhoons while eastern Guangdong remained relatively unscathed. Further to the east and north, Taiwan was devastated by Typhoon Sarah (8919) in September. Including a weakening Sarah, five tropical cyclones approached the coast of eastern China.

Another four tropical cyclones struck Japan and one of them went on to hit South Korea in July.
The most intense tropical cyclone of the year was Typhoon Gordon (8908) in July. Prior to hitting northern Luzon, its lowest central pressure was estimated to be about 905 hPa with maximum sustained winds in excess of 210 km/h. The most destructive tropical cyclone was Typhoon Gay (8929) in early November. A total of 1 103 people was reported dead or missing on land and sea in Thailand. Financial damage was estimated to be over US$458 million. The most serious incident occurred in the Gulf of Thailand where a gas-drilling ship capsized. Only six of the 97-strong crew on board survived.

During the year, 17 tropical cyclones, which equalled the 30-year (1951-80) annual average, occurred within the area of responsibility of Hong Kong (i.e. the area bounded by l0oN, 30oN, 105o E and 125o E). Ten of these tropical cyclones moved into this area while the other seven developed within it. Altogether, 430 warnings for shipping were issued by the Royal Observatory in connection with these 17 tropical cyclones.

Tropical cyclone warning signals were displayed in Hong Kong for seven tropical cyclones. Six of them necessitated the hoisting of the Strong Wind Signal No. 3 and gale signals were hoisted for Typhoon Brenda in May and Typhoon Gordon in July.

The total tropical cyclone rainfall (defined as the total rainfall recorded at the Royal Observatory, Hong Kong from the time when a tropical cyclone was centred within 600 km of Hong Kong to 72 hours after the tropical cyclone has dissipated or moved outside 600 km of Hong Kong) during 1989 amounted to 643.4 mm, which is 13 per cent above the annual average value of 566.9 mm (18841939 and 1947-1970). It accounted for 33 per cent of the year's total rainfall of 1 944.6 mm. Eight tropical cyclones came within 600 km of Hong Kong. Typhoon Brenda (8903), ranked as the 10th wettest storm on record, contributed 439.6 mm of rainfall. Typhoon Elsie (8927) brought only a trace of rainfall and Typhoon Hunt (8930) contributed 3.0 mm. Rainfall figures associated with the other tropical cyclones are given in Table 10(b).

Winona (8901) was the first tropical cyclone to form over the western North Pacific in the year. It developed from an area of low pressure which originated east of the International Dateline and moved west-southwestwards into the western North Pacific on 15 January. After formation as a tropical depression about 1 250 km eastnortheast of Guam early on 18 January, Winona moved rapidly west-southwestwards. It intensified to a tropical storm that afternoon. Winona passed about 150 km north of Guam on 19 January and then weakened to a tropical depression. It turned westwards early next morning and dissipated over water about 850 km east of Manila early on 21 January.

About three months later, Tropical Depression Andy (8902) developed over the Caroline Islands about 650 km south-southeast of Guam early on 18 April. It quickly strengthened into a tropical storm and moved northnorthwestwards. Andy then turned westwards in the evening and continued to intensify. It began to recurve during the night of 19 April. By the next morning, Andy had reached typhoon strength and was moving steadily northeastwards. The eye of Typhoon Andy became visible on satellite imageries on the same day. It passed about 150 km south-southeast of Guam early on 21 April. Andy reached its peak intensity that afternoon with maximum winds near the centre estimated to be over 200 km/h. It began to weaken quickly the next day while maintaining a northeastward track. Andy became a severe tropical storm early on 23 April and a tropical storm that evening. It completed its extratropical transition on the morning of 24 April over the waters near Marcus Island.

The first tropical cyclone to affect Hong Kong occurred in May. Brenda (8903) formed over the western North Pacific about 1 220 km east-southeast of Manila early on 16 May. It crossed the Philippines as a tropical storm and intensified to a typhoon about 390 km south-southeast of Hong Kong over the South China Sea on 19 May.

Brenda moved northwestwards across the South China Sea and made landfall early on 21 May over western Guangdong where it finally dissipated later that morning. In Hong Kong, six people were killed. In western Guangdong, the death toll was 84.

Following the dissipation of Brenda, Cecil (8904) formed as a tropical depression over the central part of the South China Sea about 740 km east-southeast of Danang on the evening of 22 May. It moved northwestwards at about 23 km/h initially and intensified rapidly. By the following afternoon it had attained severe tropical storm intensity and changed to a more west-northwestward track at about 13 km/h. A ragged eye developed on 24 May as Cecil became a typhoon. Its movement then became erratic and on the evening of 24 May, Cecil turned southwestwards. It made landfall about 80 km southeast of Danang early next morning and turned northwestwards again. Cecil weakened rapidly and became a tropical storm when it was about 110 km northwest of Danang. It moved westwards into Laos and weakened into an area of low pressure about 210 km westnorthwest of Danang on the evening of 25 May.

Cecil brought torrential rain to the central part of Vietnam and caused catastrophic floods there. In the city of Hue, streets were under two metres of water. In the central provinces of Vietnam, 140 people were killed and about 600 were reported missing. About 112 000 hectares of rice paddy and 40 000 hectares of other crops were destroyed or damaged. In addition, about 36 000 houses and 150 schools were destroyed, leaving 150 000 people homeless. Fishing boats which sank or were damaged totalled 700. There were also reports of waterworks and dams being destroyed. The remnants of Cecil also brought heavy rain to the central and northeastern parts of Thailand.
Dot (8905) formed about 1 000 km east-southeast of Manila on 5 June and crossed the central Philippines as a tropical storm the next day. Maintaining a west-northwestward track across the South China Sea, it intensified to a typhoon about 400 km east-southeast of Xisha on 8 June. Dot traversed southern Hainan on 10 June and weakened to a severe tropical storm. Turning to the north-northwest over Beibu Wan, it landed over northern Vietnam on 11 June and dissipated. Two people were killed in Hainan and three in Vietnam.

Tropical Depression Ellis (8906) formed over the Pacific about 840 km south of Okinawa on the evening of 22 June. It moved west-northwestwards initially but turned to northeast early next morning while intensifying to a tropical storm. Ellis then moved north-northeastwards at a speed of 45 km/h and became extratropical on the afternoon of 23 June.

Six tropical cyclones developed in July, but only two of them attained typhoon intensity.
Faye (8907) formed about 830 km east-northeast of Manila on 7 July. It moved westwards and intensified to a severe tropical storm the next day. After crossing northern Luzon later that evening, Faye entered the South China Sea early on 9 July. It then crossed Hainan on the evening of 10 July and finally dissipated in Vietnam the next day.

A few hours before Faye dissipated, Gordon (8908) formed about 580 km north-northeast of Guam and moved westwards. It attained typhoon intensity on 14 July and crossed northern Luzon on the morning of 16 July.

Gordon then traversed the northern part of the South China Sea on a west-northwestward track and made landfall over western Guangdong. It finally dissipated in Guangxi on 19 July. In Hong Kong, one person was killed. In Guangdong, 17 people were killed and flooding also caused severe damage. In the Philippines, 41 people were killed with 30 people reported missing.
As Gordon moved into the South China Sea, Hope (8909) formed as a tropical depression about 760 km southeast of Okinawa on the evening of 16 July. It moved northwestwards and entered the East China Sea a couple of days later. Hope intensified to a severe tropical storm on 19 July and turned north-northwestwards. It moved slowly and erratically on 20 July before landing over Zhejiang about 200 km southeast of Hangzhou early next morning. Hope then weakened rapidly and finally dissipated inland about 40 km southeast of Hangzhou on 21 July.

In Zhejiang, about 240 000 people were affected by floods in over 800 villages. The casualties included 122 people dead, 21 reported missing, and 900 seriously injured. About 205 000 hectares of farmland were affected.

The total damage amounted to 1 050 million RMB. The damage was most severe in the Ninpo district where Hope made landfall. There were 14 people killed or injured. The extent of damage included about 20 000 metres of dykes, over 6 000 houses, 12 piers, and the sinking of 18 boats near the shore. Crops were lost, and transport and communication were also interrupted.
In the northern part of the neighbouring province of Fujian, heavy rain brought water levels in rivers to alarming levels. Widespread flooding occurred and over 4 000 houses were damaged. About 3 300 hectares of paddy rice field were inundated, 12 500 tonnes of grain were destroyed and 1 000 pigs were washed away. Transport and communication were also interrupted. The death toll was 24, and 1 000 people were injured.

While Hope was causing havoc over eastern China, another tropical cyclone named Irving (8910) formed over the South China Sea about 350 km west of Manila early on 21 July. Moving westwards, it soon developed into a tropical storm during the day. Irving then changed to a north-northwestward track early on 22 July. It passed about 70 km south-southwest of Xisha before reverting to a westward track. Irving intensified to a severe tropical storm early on 23 July and turned to the northwest, moving almost parallel to the Vietnam coast. Despite weakening to a tropical storm that afternoon, Irving temporarily re-gained severe tropical storm strength before making landfall about 200 km south of Hanoi next morning. It finally dissipated inland over Laos about 160 km southwest of Hanoi on the afternoon of 24 July.

In Vietnam, 102 people died and 488 people were injured. Over 80 000 houses were damaged. About 65 000 hectares of farmland were inundated and 256 boats sank.

Judy (8911) developed as a tropical depression about 1 470 km southeast of Okinawa on 23 July. It moved northwards and gradually intensified to a typhoon two days later when it was about 1 240 km east-southeast of Okinawa. Judy then turned northwestwards in the general direction of Kyushu. It traversed the southern part of Kyushu during the night of 27 July and crossed the Korea Strait the next day. Judy weakened to a tropical storm before making landfall over the southern part of the Korean Peninsula on the evening of 28 July. Over land, it turned to a north-northwestward track and dissipated about 130 km south of Seoul early on 29 July.

In Kyushu, two people were killed and six others were injured. Two houses were destroyed in rainstorms while nine others were damaged. Another 86 houses were flooded. Twenty-five cases of landslides occurred and electricity supply was interrupted. In Shikoku, three people died when their house was destroyed by fire.

In Korea, Judy caused landslides and flooding. Twenty-five people died and four were reported missing. About 7 700 houses and 15 000 hectares of farmland were flooded with 17 000 people made homeless. Highways to Pusan were also damaged and transportation was disrupted.
Soon after the demise of Judy, Tropical Depression Ken (8912) formed about 710 km east-southeast of Okinawa on 29 July. It moved rapidly northeastwards at first but gradually turned anti-clockwise to a westward track by 31 July. It was then renamed Lola as it moved towards the Ryukyu Islands. Tropical Storm Lola was slow-moving in the vicinity of the Ryukyu Islands on the first two days of August. It then took on a northwesterly track on the evening of 2 August and moved across the East China Sea. Lola further intensified to a severe tropical storm for a short period on 3 August. It made landfall near Shanghai on 4 August and weakened as it moved inland. Lola crossed Jiangsu Province and finally dissipated in Anhui Province about 110 km westsouthwest of Nanjing on 5 August.

Very high tides occurred along the coastal regions of Zhejiang where Lola made landfall. Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Anhui provinces were devastated by severe floods. At least 90 000 hectares of farmland were inundated. Cotton and corn crops were blown down. About 300 houses were damaged. The total loss was estimated to be about 4 million RMB.

Besides Ken-Lola, seven other tropical cyclones occurred in August. All developed over the western North Pacific near or north of the latitude of 20oN. It was the second consecutive year that the South China Sea was devoid of tropical cyclones in August.

Tropical Depression Mac (8913) formed about 1 840 km southeast of Tokyo on 1 August and soon became a tropical storm. It moved north-northwestwards initially but turned progressively westwards the next day. Mac attained typhoon intensity about 1 180 km southeast of Tokyo on 3 August and tracked west-southwestwards. It made an abrupt turn to the north on 4 August and moved generally to the north-northwest for the next couple of days towards eastern Honshu. Mac weakened to a severe tropical storm early on 6 August and made landfall about 90 km east of Tokyo during the day. After crossing Honshu, it entered the Sea of Japan that night and finally dissipated about 380 km west-southwest of Sapporo on 7 August.

In Honshu, heavy rain associated with Mac caused extensive flooding and over 100 cases of landslides in Fukushima and Miyagi prefectures. Twelve houses were destroyed and over 4 000 houses were flooded. Eight people were killed, seven were reported missing and fifteen others were injured. Many flights were cancelled and railway lines in seven prefectures were paralysed.
Nancy (8914) formed as a tropical depression about 1 080 km west of Wake Island on 11 August and moved east-northeastwards initially. It gradually turned to a north-northwestward track on 12 August and intensified to a severe tropical storm the next day. Nancy reached typhoon strength about 1 260 km southeast of Tokyo on 14 August and moved northwestwards. It reverted to a more northward track the following day and weakened gradually to a tropical storm by 16 August. It then curved away to the north-northeast off the northeastern tip of Hokkaido that evening and became an extratropical cyclone over the Kuril Islands early next day.

Within 24 hours after the formation of Nancy, Owen (8915) developed as a tropical depression about 730 km north-northeast of Guam on 12 August and drifted southeastwards initially. It became a tropical storm and turned towards the northeast on the next day. Owen further intensified to a typhoon about 1 100 km northeast of Guam on 14 August. It took on a north-northwesterly course that evening and weakened to a severe tropical storm the next day. Owen passed about 510 km east of Tokyo on 17 August and recurved northeastwards. It weakened to a tropical storm early next day before evolving into an extratropical cyclone about 600 km southwest of Kamchatka on 19 August.

While Nancy and Owen were heading northwards into higher latitudes, another disturbance to the south developed into a tropical depression named Peggy (8916) about 860 km north-northeast of Guam on 16 August. It moved northwards at first but turned increasingly to the west the next day. Lacking any significant intensification, it finally dissipated about 1 120 km north of Guam early on 18 August.

While Owen and Peggy were roaming over the Pacific, a tropical depression developed over the East China Sea about 310 km east-southeast of Shanghai on 17 August. It moved southwards and turned west-southwestwards the next day. It intensified briefly to a tropical storm off the coast of northern Fujian on 19 August before making landfall about 100 km northeast of Fuzhou the following morning and dissipating over land.

Roger (8917) formed as a tropical depression near the Ryukyu Islands about 320 km west-southwest of Okinawa on 25 August. It moved to the southeast and east initially but accelerated northeastwards the next day.

Meanwhile, Roger continued to intensify and reached severe tropical storm intensity about 180 km southeast of Kagoshima on 26 August. Roger made landfall over Shikoku on 27 August and weakened as it traversed Honshu and Hokkaido. It finally became an extratropical cyclone about 200 km northeast of Sapporo on 28 August.

As the track of Roger was almost parallel to the orientation of the Japanese islands, the whole country was affected. Torrential rain brought flooding and landslides and about 550 houses were flooded. Air traffic and rail services were paralysed. Three people were killed, three were reported missing and another 11 were injured.

At the time when Roger was intensifying and accelerating toward Japan, a tropical depression formed about 1 700 km northwest of Wake Island on 26 August. It moved east-northeastwards and became a tropical storm (8918) the next day. However, it failed to maintain its strength and soon dissipated about 1 550 km northnorthwest of Wake Island that evening.

Six tropical cyclones occurred over the western North Pacific and the South China Sea in September. Sarah (8919) was the first to form on 6 September. It moved westwards after developing into a tropical depression about 860 km north-northwest of Guam. Sarah intensified to a tropical storm the next morning and turned westnorthwestwards during the day. It became a severe tropical storm while turning southwestwards on 8 September.

Sarah drifted south and remained slow-moving to the east of northern Luzon the next day. It then took on a northward course that evening and attained typhoon intensity on 10 September. Turning westwards on 11 September, Sarah made landfall over Taiwan about 190 km south of Taibei that night. It weakened to a severe tropical storm and moved along the east coast of Taiwan. Sarah entered the Taiwan Strait during the night of 12 September and continued to weaken as it approached the coast of eastern China. It made landfall over Zhejiang about 110 km south-southwest of Wenzhou the following afternoon and dissipated inland soon afterwards.

Rain associated with Sarah triggered off floods and landslides in the northern part of the Philippines, leaving 31 people dead. Over 200 000 people had to flee their homes. Rice and tobacco fields were ruined. Three bridges were destroyed by rampaging waters. The total damage in the Philippines was estimated to be at least 38 million pesos.

In Taiwan, 19 people were killed while 14 others were reported missing. About 40 people were injured. A 12 000-tonne freighter, 'Lung Hao', broke in half after strong winds drove it away from Hualian harbour. Landslides and flooding triggered by heavy rain damaged bridges, roads and railways on the island. Electricity supply was interrupted and transportation was paralysed. Extensive agricultural areas were inundated. There were 28 houses destroyed and 41 houses damaged. Total loss in agriculture and forestry was estimated at about US$39 million.

Tip (8920) formed as a tropical depression about 1 200 km northeast of Guam on 9 September and moved north-northeastwards at a speed of over 40 km/h initially. It turned northwestwards that evening and intensified to a tropical storm the next day. After slowing down later on 10 September, Tip moved northwards the next day.

It then gradually turned eastwards on 12 September and weakened to an area of low pressure about 2 300 km east of Tokyo early on 14 September.

As Tip veered away to the east, another disturbance to its southwest developed into a tropical depression named Vera (8921) about 510 km north-northwest of Guam on 12 September. It quickly intensified to a tropical storm and moved steadily west-northwestwards. Vera reached severe tropical storm intensity on the night of 13 September but struggled to maintain its strength over the next couple of days. After entering the East China Sea early on 15 September, Vera moved northwestwards towards Zhejiang. It made landfall about 250 km southsoutheast of Hangzhou as a tropical storm that evening. As Vera moved further inland, it weakened to an area of low pressure about 90 km south of Hangzhou early on 16 September.

Zhejiang suffered severe damage with a death toll of 162. Another 354 people were reported missing while 692 people were injured. Gale force winds and rainstorms blew down power and telephone lines and breached dykes and dams. About 46 000 houses collapsed and 347 000 hectares of rice, orange and cotton fields were inundated.

Another 16 000 hectares of crops were also washed out. In the scenic city of Hangzhou, the streets were flooded and hundreds of trees were blown down. Property losses in Zhejiang were estimated at 1.3 billion RMB. The remnant of Vera also affected the coastal areas of Jiangsu.
Wayne (8922) formed near the Ryukyu Islands about 370 km southwest of Okinawa early on 18 September and moved northwards initially. It intensified rapidly to a severe tropical storm that evening and tracked northeastwards. Wayne intensified further to a typhoon on 19 September and crossed the southern tip of Kyushu early that afternoon. It then weakened to a severe tropical storm the same evening and accelerated northeastwards. Wayne skirted the south coast of Honshu during the night and merged with an extratropical cyclone the following day.

In Japan, three people were killed and another person was reported missing. Four houses and four bridges were damaged while 4 000 houses were flooded. There were 166 reports of landslides in western Japan. Railway service in Tokyo was also interrupted due to heavy rain.

Angela (8923) developed as a tropical depression about 450 km north-northeast of Yap on 29 September. It moved north-northwestwards and turned to the west-northwest on 1 October. At the same time, Angela strengthened rapidly to a typhoon about 1 810 km east of Manila and maintained its intensity as it adopted a westward track towards the Philippines. It skirted along the north coast of Luzon early on 6 October and entered the South China Sea later that day. Staying on a generally westward course, Angela crossed the northern part of the South China Sea and landed over northern Vietnam on 10 October. In northern Philippines, 118 people were killed and crops were severely damaged.

A day after the formation of Angela in the Pacific, Brian (8924) formed about 290 km south-southeast of Hong Kong on 30 September and soon intensified to a tropical storm. It traversed the northern part of the South China Sea while Angela was still making its way towards Luzon. Brian intensified to a severe tropical storm on 1 October and moved southwestwards. It reached typhoon intensity the next day while taking on a more westward track. Its centre skirted along the south coast of Hainan Island that night. Brian then started to weaken as it moved across the southern part of Beibu Wan. It soon dissipated after making landfall over northern Vietnam later on 3 October. In Hainan, 40 people were killed and heavy rain caused severe damage on the island.
Contemporary with Angela and Brian was Colleen (8925) which developed on 2 October about 600 km eastsoutheast of Guam. From an initial west-northwestward movement, it gradually turned northwards that day while intensifying to a tropical storm. Colleen then adopted a generally north-northwestward track towards Iwo Jima on 3 October and became a severe tropical storm the next day. It reached typhoon intensity about 620 km south-southeast of Iwo Jima early on 6 October. After passing Iwo Jima later in the day, Colleen started to turn northwards and passed to the west of the Ogasawara Islands on 7 October. From then onwards, Colleen accelerated to the northeast and became extratropical on 8 October about 1 200 km northeast of Tokyo.

On the day when Colleen' became extratropical and while Angela was still traversing the South China Sea, another tropical depression named Dan (8926) developed over the western North Pacific about 240 km eastnortheast of Yap. It moved westwards initially but turned more to the west-northwest on 9 October towards southern Luzon. Before striking land, it reached typhoon intensity when it was about 630 km east-southeast of Manila on 10 October. Dan swept across southern Luzon during the night of 10 October and weakened to a severe tropical storm. After entering the South China Sea, it turned to a westward track and re-gained typhoon intensity on the night of 11 October. After passing Xisha on 12 October, it reverted to a west-northwestward course and made landfall over northern Vietnam the following day. In the Philippines, 80 people were killed and losses from crop and property damage as well as industrial disruption ran to millions of US dollars. In Vietnam, 34 people were killed. In Hainan, the number of persons killed due to Angela, Brian and Dan totalled 63.

Soon after the dissipation of Dan, Elsie (8927) formed as a tropical depression on 14 October about 1 180 kilometres east of Manila. It remained slow-moving over the next couple of days while gradually gathering strength over the warm waters of the western North Pacific. By 16 October, it had intensified to a typhoon and started to move slowly west-northwestwards. After moving for a day to the west-southwest on 17 October, Elsie took on a course to the west and later west-northwest on 18 October. With maximum winds of about 195 km/h near its centre, Elsie struck Luzon on 19 October and emerged from the west coast just to the north of Baguio in the evening on a westward track. Its intensity was reduced due to interaction with the mountainous terrain of central Luzon. The weakening trend continued as Elsie made its way across the South China Sea. It became a severe tropical storm the next evening. After passing about 80 km to the north of Xisha early on 21 October, Elsie skirted the south coast of Hainan Island that night. By then, Elsie had degenerated into a tropical storm. It made landfall the following day over the coast of Vietnam about 350 km south-southeast of Hanoi and dissipated rapidly overland.

In the Philippines, 17 people were killed and another 65 were injured during the passage of Elsie. Over 320 000 people were left homeless with at least 5 000 houses destroyed or damaged. Toppled power lines caused disruption in electricity supply and fallen trees blocked many highways. There were also several reports of damage to marine vessels. The financial loss in crops was estimated to be in the region of US$0.35 million. In Hainan Island, no serious casualties were reported during the passage of Elsie. However, damage due to the successive passages of Brian, Angela, Dan and Elsie amounted to 1 900 million RMB.

While Elsie was heading towards the Vietnam coast on 22 October, an area of low pressure developed into Tropical Depression Forrest (8928) about 820 km southeast of Guam. It moved northwestwards and passed 160 km to the northeast of Guam on 24 October, by which time it had intensified to a tropical storm. Forrest attained typhoon intensity about 520 km northwest of Guam on 25 October and persisted along a northwestward track over the next couple of days. However, it started to turn north on 27 October and then accelerated northeastwards the following day over the Pacific to the south of Japan. Forrest weakened to a severe tropical storm on 28 October and became extratropical the next morning when it was about 550 km southeast of Tokyo.

Gay (8929) was the most disastrous tropical cyclone of the year. It was also the first ever tropical cyclone to form over the Gulf of Thailand. Gay originated from a disturbance which hovered over the southern part of the South China Sea towards the end of October. Cloud clusters associated with this disturbance became more organized as the system drifted westwards into the Gulf of Thailand. It eventually developed into a tropical depression about 740 km south-southeast of Bangkok on 1 November and drifted northwestwards initially. It intensified to a tropical storm the next day and reached typhoon strength on the evening of 3 November when it was about 400 km south of Bangkok. Gay then turned west-northwestwards at about 11 km/h, crossed the isthmus of southwestern Thailand on 4 November and moved into the Andaman Sea. After traversing the Andaman Islands on 6 November as a severe tropical storm, it re-gained typhoon intensity and eventually landed and dissipated over the east coast of India on 9 November.

Gay was also the first tropical cyclone of typhoon strength to inflict a direct hit upon Thailand. In the Gulf of Thailand, an American gas-drilling ship, 'Seacrest', capsized on 4 November and only six of the 97 crew on board survived. In southern Thailand, 458 people were killed, 645 people were reported missing, and 194 fishing boats were sunk. About 29 500 houses were damaged and some 275 000 hectares of rubber, coconut, palm and other plantation crops were also severely damaged. The total damage in Thailand was estimated to be about US$280 million.

Hunt (8930) formed as a tropical depression about 710 km west-northwest of Yap early on 17 November and moved westwards initially. It intensified to a severe tropical storm about 900 km east-southeast of Manila on 18 November while moving northwestwards. Hunt became a typhoon about 680 km east of Manila on 19 November and reverted to a westward track on 20 November. Before reaching Luzon, Hunt weakened to a severe tropical storm and turned northwestwards again. It made landfall over the eastern coast of Luzon about 110 km northnortheast of Manila early on 22 November and lost much of its organization due to interaction with the mountainous terrain. Upon encountering the strong northeast monsoon over the northern part of the South China Sea, Hunt weakened further and became a tropical depression about 260 km south of Dongsha Dao on 23 November.

Hunt then turned west-southwestwards and degenerated into an area of low pressure about 280 km southsouthwest of Dongsha Dao that afternoon. In the Philippines, Hunt left at least nine people dead and thousands homeless.

Irma (8931) formed as a tropical depression about 780 km east of Guam on 25 November and moved southwestwards at about 20 km/h. It intensified to a tropical storm about 400 km south of Guam on 27 November and turned west-northwestwards. Irma became a typhoon about 220 km north-northeast of Yap early on 29 November. It reached peak intensity on 30 November and slowed down to about 10 km/h. On 2 December,

Irma recurved northeastwards about 1 050 km east of Manila. It weakened to a severe tropical storm on 3 December and accelerated to about 30 km/h. Irma further weakened to a tropical storm on 4 December and turned eastwards before dissipating about 490 km south-southwest of Iwo Jima that evening.

A short-lived tropical depression formed about 280 km north-northwest of Yap early on 8 December. It moved northwestwards initially at about 12 km/h but turned northeastwards later in the day. It dissipated the next morning about 450 km north of Yap.

The last tropical cyclone of the year was Typhoon Jack (8932). It developed as a tropical depression on 22 December about 1 400 km east-southeast of Guam. Jack moved northwestwards at about 16 km/h initially but slowed down to a speed of 12 km/h the next morning. It became a tropical storm about 760 km east-southeast of Guam on 23 December and intensified further to a typhoon about 590 km east of Guam the following day. Jack turned westwards during the night of 24 December, but then reverted to a northwesterly track on the morning of 25 December and reached its peak intensity that day. After making a loop on 26 December, Jack began to drift south-southwestwards on the next day. It weakened rapidly and degenerated into an area of low pressure about 310 km east-southeast of Guam by the evening.

Note: Casualties and damage figures were consolidated from press reports.