Typhoon advances toward Taiwan, China

Typhoon Saomai moved closer to Taiwan’s capital on Wednesday, with landfall expected on Thursday morning, as a tropical storm fizzled at the south end of the island and another changed its course, veering toward the east of Japan.

Saomai, approaching from the east with sustained winds of 155kph and gusts up to 191kph, is expected to lash Taipei by 8am local time on Thursday before moving on to Fujian province in eastern China, according to Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau website.

By 5.15 GMT, Saomai was 560km east of Taiwan’s northern port of Keelung.

The weather bureau issued land and sea warnings, anticipating strong winds in northern Taiwan, on Wednesday afternoon. The Keelung port, Taiwan’s second largest, may close from Wednesday evening, a port official said.

Heavy rains will hit the Chinese cities of Wenzhou, Taizhou, Ningbo and Lishui in Zhejiang province until Friday, with wind gusts of 70kph to 120kph, said China’s Xinhua news agency, quoting the provincial meteorological observatory.

The observatory warned of landslides in mountainous areas and advised all ships to return to harbour.

The storm is already bringing heavy rains to Zhejiang and Fujian province, which have been hit by other typhoons this year.

On Tuesday night, Tropical Storm Bopha passed over southern Taiwan but had little impact. The port of Kaohsiung reported normal operations on Wednesday, while China’s southernmost county of Pingtung reported only minor rainwater drainage problems.

Pingtung officials met late on Tuesday and decided the storm’s winds and rain were not strong enough to call off classes or make people stay home from work, said Yang Chi-shu, disaster-planning department head under the county fire department.

Bopha is moving toward China at 20kph, according to the meteorological observatory of Fujian province, Xinhua said.
Its sustained winds are as high as 65kph, with gusts to 90kph.

A third storm, Typhoon Maria, with winds up to 82,8kph, had a slim chance of landing on Japan’s main island of Honshu as it veered east earlier and was moving north-east at the speed of 35kph on Wednesday. It is expected to turn into a tropical storm on Thursday, weather experts said.

But the storm could dump as much as 15cm of rain in some coastal areas north of Tokyo, the weather forecasters warned. There have been no reports of damage or casualties caused by typhoons moving near Japan.

Typhoons and tropical storms are common in Taiwan, south-east China and the Philippines during a season that lasts from early summer to late autumn. Tropical Storm Prapiroon killed 77 people in China last week, Xinhua said.—Reuters

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