In late August, 2012, Super Typhoon Bolaven (16W) spun in the Philippine Sea, threatening to bring extremely heavy wind and rain to Okinawa, Japan, North Korea and southeastern China. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this true-color image of the giant storm on August 25, 2012.
In this image, Super Typhoon Bolaven sports a broad apostrophe-shape around a distinct and nearly clear eye, signs of a strong storm. On August 24, the Joint Typhoon warning center reported the storm had maximum sustained winds of 138 mph (222 km/h), making it a Category 4 typhoon on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale. A Category 4 storm carries winds between 113-156 mph (209-251 km/h), and is capable of catastrophic damage. In such winds, well-built frame homes can sustain severe damage with loss of most of the roof structure and/ or some exterior walls, most trees may be snapped or uprooted, and power polls may be downed and the affected area may be essentially uninhabitable for weeks or months.
By August 25, the sustained winds speed was reported at 146 mph (234.9 km/h) with gusts to 188 mph as Bolaven approached Okinawa. Reportedly the most powerful typhoon to strike the region since 1956, the storm had a significant impact on Japan, but left less damage than originally feared. About 60,000 residences in the Kagoshima Prefecture lost power, trees were snapped or uprooted, and buildings were damaged. Flash floods and heavy rain caused landslides on Okinawa, as well as power outages and damage to buildings.
On August 27 the storm weakened as it blew over the Yellow Sea, with winds dropping to 80.5 mph (129.6 km/h), or Category 2 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Bolaven had further weakened on August 28 before making landfall in North Korea north of the capital city of Pyonyang at about 11:00 a.m. EDT. At that time, according to AIR Worldwide, Bolaven was a weak typhoon at that time, with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph (120 km/h). After making landfall, the storm has moved quickly over land while further weakening. On August 29, the remnants of Bolaven continued to soak China and North Korea, as well as Russia’s Far East.
According to Associated Press, Bolaven is responsible for the deaths of twelve people, eight of them fishermen. Bolaven left about 200,000 households in South Korea without power, but damages in North Korea are unknown. On Aug. 29, Bolaven's remnants were moving over eastern Siberia toward the Sea of Japan.