Taiwan braces for slow-moving Saola
The China Post news staff and CNAGusty winds and torrential rains brought by Typhoon Saola plagued Northern and Northeastern Taiwan last night and will linger today as the typhoon is moving slowly toward the island, while most other parts of the island will also see increasingly heavy rainfall, according to the Central Weather Bureau (CWB)
August 2, 2012, 12:06 am TWN
As of 8 p.m. yesterday, the typhoon was centered 160 kilometers southeast of Yilan County in Northeastern Taiwan, moving at a speed of 10 km per hour in a northwesterly direction. It was packing sustained winds of 137 kph, with gusts reaching 173 kph, the CWB said.
Although whether Saola will make landfall or simply skirt Taiwan's northeastern tip remained to be seen, the CWB said the storm poses a threat to the northeastern part of the island and could batter the area with more than 1,000 millimeters rain over the next three days.
The CWB forecast that areas north of Nantou in Central Taiwan could see accumulated precipitation ranging from 100 to 300 mm in the next 24 hours, while mountainous areas across the island could get as much as 700 mm of rain over that period.
Taiping Mountain in Northeastern Taiwan has been hardest hit, getting an accumulated 1,044 mm of rain between 12 a.m. Tuesday and 8 p.m. Wednesday.
The CWB said the impact of the slow-moving typhoon is likely to be felt into the weekend, when southwesterly winds could move in to cause another wave of heavy rainfall in Southern and Southwestern Taiwan next week.
Suspending Classes, Offices
In order to protect people from being hurt by heavy rains and strong winds, local governments in Central, Northern and Northeastern Taiwan, as well as most in Southern Taiwan, last night announced the suspension of classes and work for today, with the exception of Pingtung County and Taitung County, plus the outlying island counties of Kinmen, Lienchiang and Penghu.
President Ma Ying-jeou last night visited the Central Emergency Operation Center to closely monitor the preparatory works by local governments against the possible damages by Typhoon Soala.
Yesterday, government authorities issued code-red landslide warnings for six rivers around the country, all in the northeastern county of Yilan, as Typhoon Saola moved closer to the island, bringing heavy rain to northern and central regions.
Soil and water conservation authorities, which issued the warning, said that local governments should advise or force the evacuation of residents in areas where the red alerts were issued and where rainfall has exceeded 550 mm.
Meanwhile, code-yellow warnings were issued for 233 rivers in the northern counties of Taoyuan, Yilan, Hsinchu and Taichung in Central Taiwan, where rainfall was forecast to reach between 300 and 600 mm.
Several mountain roads in landslide-prone parts of Northern, Central and Southern Taiwan will be closed, according to the Central Emergency Operation Center.
The center forecast that total rainfall in Northeastern Taiwan and areas north of Central Taiwan will likely exceed 1,000 mm, adding that Yilan, Taipei and Keelung in the north will be particularly susceptible to flooding.
Domestic and international flight schedules in Taiwan were disrupted yesterday due to the influence of Typhoon Saola, the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) said.
As of 4 p.m. yesterday, a total of 45 international flights, including flights between Taipei and Fuzhou, Tokyo, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, and five domestic flights between eastern and northern Taiwan had been canceled amid increasing winds. The two terminals of Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport were crowded with passengers awaiting departures despite the flight suspension.
The storm was slowly heading toward Northeastern Taiwan, but it had already dumped heavy rain in several parts of the island.
As of 3 p.m., the CWB predicted that it would bring torrential rains and strong winds later in the day as it gets closer to the island.