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Double tropical trouble in the West Pacific

By Jackson Dill and Joshua Berlinger, CNN

Two big storms have formed in the waters of East Asia, both of which are expected to lash the region with strong winds and heavy rains in the coming days.

Tropical Storm Cempaka strengthened into a typhoon early Tuesday over the South China Sea. The storm had winds up to 120 kph (75 mph) and was located about 185 kilometers (115 miles) southwest of Hong Kong as of 5 a.m. (5 p.m. ET).

Cempaka is not expected to intensify as it nears land. A Strong Wind Signal No. 3 was in effect for Hong Kong, indicating wind speeds of 41 to 62 kph (about 25-40 mph), according to the Hong Kong Observatory’s typhoon warning signals.

The other storm, In-Fa, is tracking further north, mainly impacting Japan’s southern islands and Taiwan. It is forecast to strengthen into a typhoon Tuesday night, but it is not likely to interact with Cempaka.

In-Fa is expected to bring rain to Japan ahead of the Olympic Games, which open in Tokyo on Friday. The big waves associated with the storm may be a boon for surfers training for the inaugural Olympic surfing competition.

Cempaka is expected to make landfall Tuesday afternoon or evening near the city of Yangjiang in China’s Guangdong province, bringing heavy, flooding rains to southeastern portions of the country through much of this week.

A widespread 100 to 200 millimeters (about 4 to 8 inches) of rainfall is forecast for the provinces of Guangdong, Guangxi and Hainan. Isolated locations could approach 500 millimeters (about 20 inches) through Friday local time. There will also be strong, gusty winds, especially near the coast where the storm will make landfall, which could cause isolated power outages.

The Joint Typhoon Warning Center said it expects Cempaka to meander over these provinces and possibly emerge back over the South China Sea by this weekend, keeping an elevated risk for rain and flooding, especially near the coast.

In-Fa, meanwhile, will strengthen to a typhoon by midweek as it heads towards Taiwan. By Friday, it is expected to brush past the north of the island, bringing much needed rain, as Taiwan is suffering its worst drought in more than 50 years. In-fa is then forecast to make landfall over China late Saturday night into early Sunday morning hours local time along the central Fujian province coast.

Powerful typhoons are a regular occurrence during the summer in southern China, though they can form throughout the year due to the warm waters of the Pacific. So, unlike the Atlantic hurricane season, the West Pacific typhoon season doesn’t have a defined beginning and end.

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