Nation braces for approaching storm

HIGH ALERT::Tropical storm Fung-Wong is expected to make landfall early today and there are concerns that serious damage will be seen in the nation’s western parts

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter, with CNA

Sun, Sep 21, 2014 - Page 1

The sun was still shining in parts of southern Taiwan early yesterday, but the central government as well as local authorities went on high alert as Tropical Storm Fung-Wong (鳳凰) slowly made its way toward that part of the nation from the northern Philippines.

As of 4pm yesterday, Fung-Wong was centered 220km southwest of Taiwan’s southernmost tip, Oluanpi (鵝鑾鼻), moving north at 16kph, the Central Weather Bureau (CWB) said.

It was packing maximum sustained winds of 90kph, with gusts reaching 119kph, according to the bureau, adding that Fung-Wong is expected to make landfall some time after dawn today.

At press time last night, Greater Taichung, Greater Tainan, Greater Kaohsiung and Chuanghua, Yunlin, Taitung, Pingtung and Penghu counties had declared today a typhoon day, canceling work and classes.

The southeastern, southern and eastern areas, as well as mountainous areas in the north of central Taiwan, are expected to be hit with torrential rains, the bureau said, adding that southeastern and southern Taiwan, which have been experiencing regional downpours since yesterday, would see increased precipitation today.

In Greater Kaohsiung and Greater Tainan, where flooding has occurred in recent years, authorities were yesterday preparing for evacuations and other emergencies.

The bureau urged people in mudslide-prone areas to be on the alert, while reminding people who plan to head to the beach to beware of big waves generated by the tropical storm. The bureau said that waves off the nation’s southeastern shore already measured up to 5m tall yesterday, while those in other places reached 3m.

There is concern that the storm’s unusual path could mean serious damage to areas in the western part of the nation.

Fung-Wong’s projected route suggests that the eye of the storm is likely to make landfall and that the entire nation could be engulfed in stormy winds and heavy rain, the bureau said.

While all regions should step up their preparations for the storm, the coastal plains in the western half face greater threats than usual because of their lack of shelter from Fung-Wong, the bureau said.

Records show that typhoons or the less powerful tropical storms that affect Taiwan usually approach from the east, the southeast or the northeast, and their ability to cause damage often diminishes as their structure is broken up by the mountain ranges that lie along the length of the island.