The Central Weather Bureau warned yesterday that tropical storm Tembin could return early this week, after triggering the worst downpour in over a century on the nation’s southernmost tip.
Tembin, initially categorized as a “severe” typhoon by the Hong Kong Observatory, swept across southern Taiwan on Friday before moving out to sea.
“There is a roughly 50 percent risk that Tembin could affect Taiwan again on Monday or Tuesday, depending on its path,” bureau forecaster Lin Pin-yu (林秉煜) said.
Tembin’s future course hinged partly on Bolaven, a very strong typhoon close to Okinawa which was not expected to head directly to Taiwan, he said.
Tembin unleashed precipitation in southern Pingtung County that was described as the worst in more than a century.
While weather bureau data showed Pingtung as a whole had received 724mm of rain since Wednesday, the township of Hengchun (恆春) saw rainfall of over 600mm on Friday alone.
That was the highest amount of rainfall recorded in Hengchun since 1896, according to the bureau.
Television footage showed scenes from villages in Pingtung County where pedestrians were walking through ankle-deep water, while workers removed debris left by floods.
The latest typhoon left five people injured, including two firefighters, according to the Central Emergency Operation Center.
The weather bureau lifted its land warning earlier yesterday as Tembin moved away and was downgraded to a tropical storm, but warned of more rains in the south.
As of 2:30pm, Tembin was 190km north-northeast of the Dongsha Islands (東沙群島) in the South China Sea.
With a radius of 150km and packing winds gusting at up to 101kph, it was moving west-southwest at 7kph.
About 500 military personnel helped residents in Hengchun clean up flooded areas yesterday.
Tembin caused power outages, road closures and floods, most of which have subsided as of early yesterday. Electricity was scheduled to be restored to all of the more than 30,000 affected households in the Hengchun area by late yesterday.
Meanwhile, the Alishan Highway (Highway No. 18) in Chiayi, which was closed in preparation for Typhoon Tembin, opened to traffic yesterday, but the Alishan Forest Recreation Park remains closed to tourists.
When the popular forest park is to reopen depends on the movement of Tembin, which may make a comeback because of the influence of the nearby Typhoon Bolaven, according to the Chiayi Forest District Office.
According to the Council of Agriculture, the total agricultural damage caused by Tembin has reached an estimated NT$116.39 million as of 3pm yesterday.
So far, the damage in Taitung County has reached about NT$51.17 million, followed by Hualien County with estimated damages of NT$36.8 million and damage in Pingtung County reaching NT$27.81 million, the council said.
The total crop damage has reached NT$63.39 million, with 1,224 hectares of farmland affected.
The crops that suffered most were custard apples, with losses estimated at NT$27.95 (US$3.9 million) million, and bananas with losses of NT$12.96 million, followed by other fruit, ginger and watermelons.
Damage caused to the fishing and aquaculture industries has reached about NT$18.25 million, with the most damage caused in fish farms at Pingtung’s Checheng Township (車城).