The Central Weather Bureau followed up its sea warning for Typhoon Sepat yesterday morning with a land warning at 8:30pm last night as the storm continued to approach.
At 8pm, the typhoon was centered 640km southeast of Taitung and was moving northwesterly at 20kph, packing maximum sustained winds of 191kph.
Forecasters said Sepat posed a threat to shipping southeast of Taiwan and in the Bashi Channel.
Lu Kuo-chen (呂國臣), a section chief at the Weather Forecast Center, said the eye of Sepat was clearly visible on satellite pictures, which indicated that it could be very destructive. With a radius of 250km, Sepat covers an area of 196,250km2 -- greater than the area of Taiwan, he said.
If Sepat stays on its current course, the fringe of the typhoon could affect the island early today and possibly make landfall over southeastern Taiwan tonight, the bureau said.
Airlines have canceled some flights and they urged passengers to confirm their flights well ahead of the scheduled departures.
All Uni Air flights to Taitung from Taipei after noon today have been canceled, as has the 8:40pm Kaohsiung to Taipei Uni Air flight, the company said.
All Far Eastern Air Transport flights after noon today have been canceled, the company said.
TransAsia Airways has canceled its afternoon flights to Hualien and Pingtung, as well as its flights to Kaohsiung and Tainan after 6pm, while Mandarin Airlines has canceled its flights to Kaohsiung, Hualien and Makung City today.