Thu, Jul 14, 2005 - Page 1 News List

Tropical storm is on its way, but the heat isn't gone yet

By Chiu Yu-Tzu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The public should be aware of Tropical Storm Haitang, which is growing in strength as it approaches Taiwan, the Central Weather Bureau said yesterday.

And while the first potential typhoon of the season to threaten Taiwan was moving west, a new record high temperature for the year of 36.8?C was recorded at noon yesterday in Taipei City. Similar temperatures over the next few days will continue to make life uncomfortable -- bureau officials said that it is not easy for the Taipei Basin to release accumulated heat.

The highest temperatures recorded throughout the rest of Taiwan yesterday did not exceed 35?C.

COOLING OFF

The forecasters said that the influence of a high-pressure cell in the Pacific Ocean would be offset by cooling afternoon showers in the north of the country.

Tropical Storm Haitang, which was about 2,800km east of Taiwan yesterday, is growing in size, with a radius measured yesterday at 150km. The storm is expected to travel west for at least five days before it begins to affect Taiwan's weather.

"With the velocity of Haitang varying only slightly, we predict that it will be very close to Taiwan from next Monday to Wednesday," forecaster Chen Yi-liang (陳怡良) said.

The bureau said a more accurate prediction would be announced on the weekend.

Daniel Wu (吳德榮), deputy director of the bureau's forecast center, said that Haitang had the potential to develop into a typhoon.

"Haitang's peripheral currents might affect the weather in Taiwan as early as this Sunday," he said.

Yesterday, legislators and environmentalists urged the government to apply preventive strategies to protect the public from typhoon damage.

Taiwan suffers from an average of 3.5 typhoons and dozens of damaging downpours causing NT$12.8 billion (US$400 million) in losses annually. Global climate change is thought to be worsening the situation.

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Last year, nine typhoons struck Taiwan, resulting in devastating floods, mudslides and other disasters. A flood in central Taiwan on July 2 last year inundated 659km2 of land. Last month, heavy rains in central and southern parts of the nation claimed 14 lives and resulted in losses exceeding NT$1.4 billion.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Wang To-far (王塗發) said that a Cabinet plan to inject NT$800 billion over eight years into water management deserved to be seriously considered because Taiwanese were suffering from a worsening living environment.

Lin I-chen (林意楨), an associate professor in the department of water resources and environmental engineering at Tamkang University, said at a public hearing at the Legislative Yuan that the occurrence of similar tragedies involving water could be attributed to a lack of appropriate review within water resource agencies at all levels of government.

"So far, we don't have basic data for any devastating flood. Without knowing the extent and the mechanism of flooding, how can the government manage water properly?" Lin asked.

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