Taiwan may face fourth straight typhoon weekend

By Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Wed, Oct 01, 2008 - Page 2

Those who have outdoor or travel plans this weekend may want to reconsider. The Central Weather Bureau (CWB) said yesterday that a low-pressure system near Guam has been upgraded to a tropical storm and may approach Taiwan this weekend.

The newly formed tropical storm is named Higos, which means “fig” in Spanish. At press time yesterday, the bureau said the center of Higos was located 610km southeast of Manila, which is about 1,600km from Oluanpi (鵝鑾鼻). The storm was moving northwesterly at a speed of 20kph. The radius of the storm was 200km.

CWB forecast center director Daniel Wu (吳德榮) said the tropical storm is near the Philippines, and its structure may be damaged by land there.

It was unlikely that the storm’s intensity will gradually increase at this stage, Wu said.

Nonetheless, Wu said sea temperatures from the east of the Philippines over to the South China Sea are still quite warm at this time of year. Even after the storm sweeps across the Philippines, it is in an ideal environment for developing into a typhoon, he said.

Wu said the bureau would be better able to determine the situation tomorrow.

If Higos does approach Taiwan, it would be the fourth weekend in a row that a storm will have threatened the nation. Typhoon Sinlaku hit Taiwan on Sept. 14, Hagupit loomed off Taiwan’s coast on Sept. 21, and Jangmi just left on Monday after battering the nation with strong winds and rain.

The bureau yesterday added that a dry seasonal northeast wind is expected to arrive today and may lower temperatures in the north to 22°C or 23°C.

In related news, the Council of Agriculture said yesterday that Jangmi caused the nation some NT$1.37 billion (US$42.5 million) in agricultural damage. Broken down by sector, NT$1.22 billion in crops were lost, translating into 15,491 hectares of land, with rice paddies being the hardest hit, and grapes, bananas and other fruits also being affected. Nearly NT$5.61 million was lost in livestock and the COA said that almost 110,000 chickens died because of the typhoon.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education yesterday said it would allocate NT$15 million in emergency assistance for schools damaged by Jangmi to help them re-open.

Around the country, 56 schools remained closed yesterday because of typhoon damage, the ministry said, adding that it was the worst typhoon damage in recent years.