Although Typhoon Muifa was moving past Taiwan toward China yesterday, the Central Weather Bureau warned of heavy rain in the north and northeast starting late last night.
As of 8:30pm, Muifa was centered 540km east-northeast of Taipei, moving northwest at 16kph.
The storm is packing sustained winds of 155kph, with gusts of up to 191kph.
According to bureau official Hsieh Ming-chang (謝明昌), there was a chance that extremely heavy rain would become a torrential downpour (more than 200mm in 24 hours) or even extremely torrential rain (more than 350mm in 24 hours) in mountainous areas of the north.
More rainfall in the east and south was expected tomorrow and Monday, when moisture from the southwest moves in, he said.
China Airlines yesterday canceled two flights from Taipei to Okinawa following the issuing of a sea warning for Typhoon Muifa by the bureau on Thursday. The airline operates two Taipei-Okinawa flights per day, but canceled them as the eye of the typhoon swept over Okinawa.
The Taipei Dadaocheng Firework Festival, originally scheduled to take place today to coincide with Chinese Valentine’s Day, has been postponed due to Muifa. Taipei City Government’s Department of Information and Tourism said it did not yet have a new date.
Liu Shaw-chen (劉紹臣), director of the Research Center for Environmental Changes at Academia Sinica, said people should be alert to the damage that can be caused by extreme rain during typhoons as the incidence of heavy rainfall has increased significantly in Taiwan over past decades.
Liu said that 40 percent of the annual precipitation in Taiwan occurs during the typhoon season, which means the concentration of rainfall in the country is highest at that time of year.
“The volume of accumulated rainfall in the highest 10 percent range has doubled over the past 50 years,” he said.
Liu’s warning was echoed by Chia Hsin-hsing (賈新興), chief of the long range forecast section at the weather bureau.
Chia said the bureau was becoming more concerned about the damage from torrential rain, rather than wind, during typhoons.
The most devastating case of extreme rainfall occurred in 2009, when Typhoon Morakot brought a record 1,402mm of precipitation in one day, he said.
“While modern architecture can protect us from winds, we are still struggling to find a way to prevent floods and mudslides caused by torrential rains,” he said.