Sun, Jul 17, 2005 - Page 1 News List

Land, sea warnings up for Haitang

TYPHOON The outer edges of the Category 4 storm will be felt today and meteorologists warned residents in mountain areas to be on alert for land and mudslides


The Central Weather Bureau issued sea warnings yesterday afternoon and land warnings around midnight as Typhoon Haitang strengthened and started to accelerate toward Taiwan.

Traveling at a speed of 20kph to 26kph, the outer rim of Haitang is expected to be felt in Hualieng (花蓮) this morning. Northern and eastern parts of the country, especially Yilan (宜蘭), Hualien and Taitung will be affected, the bureau said.

"Given the typhoon's strength, the entire island should stay on high alert," Daniel Wu (吳德榮), the bureau's chief meteorologist, said yesterday.

With maximum sustained winds of 184kph and gusts of up to 227kph, by yesterday Haitang was a dangerous Category 4 storm on the five-step storm scale and capable of causing severe damage.

It is expected to strengthen further and become a maximum Category 5 storm today.

Meteorologist George Lu (呂國臣) said Haitang's eye is very clear.

"With Haitang's velocity varying only slightly, we predict that it will be very close to coastal areas this afternoon and affect the island in the evening," he said.

The storm is expected to sweep over Taiwan between today and tomorrow before heading toward China -- if it keeps to its present course.

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.

The weather bureau also urged residents in mountainous areas in the north and northeast to be on alert for landslides, mudflows and torrential rains.

Meanwhile, wholesale prices of vegetables and fruits are expected to rise over the next few days as a result of the storm and so many people took advantage of their day off yesterday to head to stores and stock up on vegetables, fruit, dry food, flashlights and batteries.

The Council of Agriculture said that there is still plenty of frozen vegetables in stock and it asked consumers not to panic over possible storm damage to crops and price hikes.

"We will distribute the stock to the market depending on the market's demand after the storm. The public's fear of high-priced vegetables after a typhoon is simply psychological and not based on fact," it said in a statement.

Wholesale prices for vegetables, however, had already risen to an average of NT$29 per kilogram in the Taipei Markets Administration Office, up from NT$26 on Friday, the council said.

The Environmental Protection Administration warned that the rains brought by Haitang may carry mud and pollute the drinking water. It suggested people store some water, and make sure to boil water before drinking.

The weather bureau did have some good news yesterday. Despite Haitang's impending arrival, the bureau believes fewer typhoons will hit Taiwan this year.

"Since the subtropical high barometric pressure in the west Pacific is growing stronger this summer, there will be fewer typhoons reaching Taiwan than in the past, when we averaged three to four," Wu said.

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