Torrential rainfall, temblor batter nation

NATURE’S FURY::While more rain fell in the greater Taipei area in a day than during the entire month of May, three Hualien students were injured in a quake

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Thu, May 22, 2014 - Page 1

The nation was hit by torrential rainfall and a magnitude 5.9 earthquake yesterday, causing flooding in multiple places and injuring three students.

Heavy rain brought by a stationary front had started pouring over northern Taiwan earlier this week. By 8pm yesterday, the accumulated rainfall in Taipei City had topped 357mm, which met the Central Weather Bureau’s (CWB) definition for “extreme torrential rainfall.”

Precipitation is categorized as extreme torrential rain if it exceeds 350mm within 24 hours. Statistics from the bureau showed that the top 10 places with the most rainfall yesterday were all in the Greater Taipei Area and Taoyuan County. Among them, the rainfall in Taoyuan County’s Lujhu (蘆竹) was the highest nationwide, reaching 241.5mm by 7:50pm yesterday. It was followed by Taoyuan City and Sinwu (新屋) in Taoyuan County, where rainfall of 241.5mm and 226mm respectively were registered.

WeatherRisk Co environmental resources director Chia Hsing-hsing (賈新興) said that the torrential rainfall was caused by convection cells that can only be observed on radar echo maps.

He said Taipei’s average rainfall in May is 295.7mm and the city’s rainfall yesterday of 357mm within 24 hours, meaning that more rain fell in just one day than usually does in the entire month of May.

The Water Resources Agency issued flood warnings to residents of Taipei City, New Taipei City and Taoyuan County.

Meanwhile, a magnitude 5.9 earthquake struck the East Coast at 8:21am yesterday.

Statistics from the CWB showed that the epicenter of the temblor was 33.3km west of Hualien County, with the epicenter 18km below the surface.

The bureau said the earthquake was the largest one observed this year and was felt nationwide. The largest intensity of magnitude 6 was felt in Silin (西林), Hualien County.

Kuo Kai-wen (郭鎧紋), director of the bureau’s seismology center, said that the energy released by the earthquake was equal to an explosion of about one-third of the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima during World War II. He said that the earthquake occurred because of the Philippine sea plate’s continued grinding against the Eurasian continental plate.

According to the bureau, the nation has an average of 2.7 earthquakes exceeding magnitude 6 every year and it has yet to see a magnitude 6 earthquake this year. However, the bureau had recorded 11 earthquakes exceeding 5 by yesterday.

The Ministry of Education said that the earthquake damaged facilities in six schools and injured three people.