BEIJING (Reuters) - Typhoon Muifa weakened as it approached China’s coast on Sunday, avoiding a direct-hit on the financial capital Shanghai and veering north toward a tip of Shandong province that juts into the Yellow Sea.
The storm was expected to run parallel to China’s densely populous eastern seaboard while delivering strong winds and torrential rains. But Muifa, which had the potential to become one of the area’s worst storms in years, so far has spared residents serious damage.
In advance of its expected arrival in eastern Shandong province early on Monday, hundreds of thousands of residents evacuated from coastal areas and tens of thousands of boats and other vessels were ordered to be secured in ports.
Earlier, the full brunt of the typhoon’s core missed Shanghai, but even so, strong gusts knocked down billboards and briefly cut power to at least two residential areas, Sang Baoliang, deputy head of Shanghai’s flood control headquarters, told the Xinhua news agency.
Muifa has proved more disruptive than damaging, with some 200 flights canceled and hundreds of thousands of residents in Shanghai, Zhejiang and Fujian provinces ordered to temporarily evacuate.
“It does not feel like a typhoon at all,” Li Hongjun, 29, a visitor to Shanghai from Shaanxi province, told Reuters. “These winds are quite normal. I would think a typhoon would feel much stronger and there should be no one walking in the streets.”
China’s National Meteorological Center said the storm, with winds of 119 km per hour (about 75 miles per hour), could clip eastern parts of Shandong province early on Monday before continuing into the Bohai Sea on up toward Dalian.
Tropical Storm Risk (www.tropicalstormrisk.com/) downgraded Muifa to a tropical storm as it headed north, showing a projected path into Liaoning province and then slowing further as it turns back toward the northeast interior.
Earlier in the Yuyuan old town area of Shanghai, intermittent rain kept tourist numbers low, but many shops remained open. An umbrella shop run by Zhu Peinian, 58, was doing a brisk business.
“They did tell us that if the typhoon was strong, we would have to shut our shops and take a break for a few days. But we are open because the alert is over,” he said.
Reporting by Royston Chan, Ken Wills, Chris Buckley and Sally Huang; Writing by Ken Wills; Editing by Jonathan Thatcher