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Heavy rains brought by Morakot raise local reservoir levels

Taipei, Aug. 8 (CNA) Typhoon Morakot battered Taiwan Friday and caused isolated damage, but its heavy rains have also replenished the country's reservoirs, easing mounting fears of a looming drought and water rationing, the Water Resources Agency (WRA) reported Friday.
The center of the storm was located 90 kilometers off the coast of Hualian County as of 5 p.m. Friday, moving in a north-northwest direction at 11km/hr. The storm was packing maximum sustained winds of 144kph.
Taiwan's reservoirs have accumulated an additional 167 million cubic meters of water because of the storm, which the water agency said will bring an end to night time water rationing in Keelung City, Taoyuan County, Tainan City and Tainan County.
In the north, the storm had contributed 20 million cubic meters of water to Feitsui Reservoir, raising its level to 150.95 meters as of Friday noon, less than 20 meters short of its full supply level.
The reservoir will consider releasing water if the water level goes above 163 meters.
Shihmen Reservoir has added approximately 80 million cubic meters of rainwater, raising its level to 230.8 meters as of 10 a.m. Friday.
The reservoir's maximum level is 245 meters.
In the south, Tsengwen Reservoir had collected about 40 million cubic meters of water, while Wushantou and Paoshan reservoirs also received large volumes of rainfall.
The level of stored water at Nanhua Reservoir had risen to 175.34 meters by 1p.m. Friday, close to its full supply level of 180 meters.
Because Typhoon Morakot was slowing down, meteorologists forecast that Taiwan would be in for an extended period of heavy rain that could force reservoirs to actually release excess water in the coming hours.
From Thursday until Friday noon, accumulated rainfall had reached the level of "torrential" rain -- defined as 200mm of rainfall over a 24-hour period -- in mountain areas in Kaohsiung, Pingtung, Hsinchu, Miaoli and Yilan counties, the Central Weather Bureau said.
Meanwhile, accumulated rainfall had exceeded 400 mm in Sandimen Township in Pingtung County, and Fanlu in Chiayi County.
More than 73,469 households around the country have experienced power outages as a result of the typhoon, including 10,621 households in Taichung.
The typhoon also forced the evacuation of more than 1,000 people in mountainous areas in Hsinchu and Taoyuan County Friday as a safety precaution.
Financial markets, schools and banks around the country were also closed on Friday in anticipation of the storm, and around 20 flights to outlying islands were canceled Friday. Meanwhile, some ferry operators announced that service from Taiwan to Makung, Matsu, Liouciou and Green Island would be suspended Friday and Saturday.
They warned of the potential for extensive damage caused by strong winds and torrential rains in northern Taiwan both Friday and Saturday and cautioned residents in mountainous areas to be aware of the possibility of landslides.
(By Y.L. Kao)