Typhoon Chanthu Expected to Linger off Port of Shanghai for Days

Chanthu's position off Shanghai, infrared imaging, 1200Z Sept. 13 (USN)

Published Sep 13, 2021 9:57 PM by The Maritime Executive

Typhoon Chanthu has stalled just off the coast of Shanghai, and forecasts indicate that it will remain in the region through Wednesday, dumping rain and rattling China's central coast with high winds. 

The storm did not inflict a direct hit on the key port areas of Ningbo-Zhoushan and Shanghai Yangshan, as had been initially feared, and its intensity has abated. As of Tuesday morning, Chanthu only mustered maximum sustained wind speeds of about 65 knots - far below its peak strength last week. It still poses a risk to shipping interests, as significant wave heights of up to 26 feet have been measured off the coast. It will also drop as much as 10 inches of rain over the Shanghai / Hangzhou Bay region, according to forecasts by the Chinese Meteorological Administration. 

Forecast for Chanthu's path, Sept. 13 (Courtesy DTN Weather)

As a precautionary measure, authorities in Shanghai took steps to minimize risk to life and property in advance of the storm. Hundreds of flights were grounded, air cargo operations were suspended, most port and cargo movements were put on hold, and at least 28,000 residents were evacuated from areas vulnerable to flooding. 

Container terminal operations at Ningbo wound down on Sunday, well in advance of Chanthu's arrival. Shanghai Yangshan, Waigaoqiao and Wusong all closed their truck gates effective Monday morning. At Zhoushan, where refineries and tank farms are clustered close together along the waterfront, cargo and marine operations have been closed since Saturday.

Once Chanthu finally departs eastern China, it is expected to turn northeast and pick up speed. It will likely weaken into a tropical storm by the time it passes the south tip of South Korea on Friday, according to the U.S. Navy's Joint Typhoon Warning Center. 

The disruption at China's biggest container port will add to global supply chain challenges. The world's ocean freight network is already under unprecedented strain due to a surge of consumer demand in the United States and Europe, and container ports and carriers have been struggling to keep up. Off Los Angeles and Long Beach, more than 50 boxships are adrift or anchored while waiting to offload, and waits are averaging more than a week. COVID-19 has added to the disruption: one of the key terminals at Ningbo was shut down for two weeks in August after one worker tested positive for the Delta variant.