The Central Weather Bureau yesterday issued a sea alert for Tropical Storm Saola, with heavy winds and rain expected along the nation’s northeast coast, the Bashi Channel and the southeast coast.
As of 8:30pm, the center of Saola was located 410km off the southeast coast of Oluanbi (鵝鑾鼻) on the Hengchun Peninsula, the nation’s southernmost point. It was moving northwesterly at a speed of 9kph. Maximum wind speeds near the center reached 108kph, with the radius of the storm reaching 200km.
The bureau said the storm showed signs it could turn into a typhoon, adding that the radius could expand.
The bureau’s forecast showed the storm would come closer to Taiwan tomorrow and on Thursday, adding that it would be in a better position to determine whether to issue a land alert today.
The circumfluence of Saola has already brought rain to the northeast and mountainous areas in northern parts of the country yesterday. As of 9pm, the highest accumulated rainfall was recorded in Gulu (古魯), Yilan County.
Chances of heavy to torrential rain remain high today, the bureau said.
Residents in those areas should be on the alert for landslides or strong precipitation. Strong waves will also pound coastal areas of the northeast, east and southeast, as well as Green Island (綠島), Lanyu (蘭嶼) and the Hengchun Peninsula.
Hualien County officials are closely monitoring the storm as it approaches the east coast and the Hualien fire department said it had made the necessary precautions.
The fire department has activated a disaster response center now that the Central Weather Bureau has issued a sea warning for the storm, department officials said. If rainfall surpasses warning levels, the Directorate-General of Highways’ Hualien Branch said it would close the Suhua Highway, which links Suao in Yilan County with Hualien.
Hualien’s Taroko National Park Headquarters is also closely monitoring the storm’s movements. The park has stopped issuing mountain permits and asked all hikers to return home.
The Coast Guard Administration warned people to keep away from the ocean, and added that dangerous sea areas would be closed.