Tue, Sep 18, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Approaching storm sparks alerts

FLIGHTS CANCELED Residents in Ilan, Keelung, Taipei, Taoyuan, Hsinchu, Miaoli and Hualien were told to brace for strong wind and rain as Typhoon Wipha barreled closer

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Central Weather Bureau yesterday issued land and sea warnings for Typhoon Wipha (韋帕), the region's 12th typhoon this year, as it approached northern Taiwan.

Taipei City and County, Ilan County, Keelung City and Taoyuan County declared a "typhoon day," canceling classes at all schools as well as declaring a no-work day for public servants and businesses.

The bureau issued a sea warning at 6am yesterday. It was followed by a land warning at 2:30pm.

At 9:15pm, the center of the typhoon was located approximately 420km southeast of Ilan County. The radius of the storm was 200km and it was moving northwest at 20kph.

The maximum wind speed near its center was estimated at 155kph, with gusts of up to 191kph.

Lin Hsiu-wen (林秀雯), deputy director of the bureau's weather forecast center, said the typhoon was expected to move within 120km of Ilan by 5pm today.

The bureau cautioned residents in Ilan, Keelung, Taipei, Taoyuan, Hsinchu, Miaoli and Hualien counties that the typhoon would bring strong winds and heavy rain.

Lin said the effects of the storm were likely to be felt in the north by this morning.

The bureau's data indicated that it was unlikely to make landfall, although the eye was expected to come close to the nation's northeastern coastline today before turning north.

"The direction of the typhoon will depend on the intensity of a high pressure system from the Pacific Ocean," Lin said.

Accumulated rain could reach 500mm to 700mm in the north, 300mm to 500mm in the central region and 300mm to 400mm in Chiayi and Tainan, Lin said.

The bureau issued a strong wind alert for sea vessels operating along the east coast. Foehn winds may also occur in the southeast, particularly in Taitung County.

Foehn winds occur when wind is forced over a mountain range, causing strong, gusty, warm and dry winds on the leeward side of the mountains.

The bureau advised the public to avoid outdoor events in coastal areas because of high seas.

Meanwhile, 16 domestic flights were canceled from 6:20am yesterday, including those between Taipei and Matsu, Taichung and Matsu, and Taipei and Kaohsiung.

About 900 tourists yesterday cut short their visits to Green Island as the storm approached.

Schools and government offices in Taichung City and County, Tainan County and Chiayi County announced that operations would continue as normal today.

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