• Directory of Taiwan

Tropical Storm Morakot moving away from Taiwan

Taipei, Aug. 8 (CNA) Tropical Storm Morakot's eye moved off Taiwan Saturday afternoon after pounding the island with strong winds and downpours for two days.
The storm's eye moved out to sea from the coast of Taoyuan County in northern Taiwan at 2 p.m., although its outer rim, which extended 250 km outward from the eye, will covered most parts of the island until Sunday.
Forecasters warned however that the torrential rain brought by the storm will continue, especially in the central and southern parts of the island, until Aug. 10.
Typhoon Morakot made landfall on Taiwan at 11: 50 p.m. Friday, but weakened as it moved north-northwesterly, and was downgraded to a tropical storm Saturday noon, according to forecasters.
Although the eye of the storm moved over northern Taiwan, the capital Taipei was spared most of its fury, thanks to the fact that the city is located in basin shielded by mountains on the east, forecasters said.
The storm brought torrential showers to the island, drenching Pingdong with 1003.5 mm of rainfall, the 7th highest ever recorded in a single day in Taiwan, according to a weather station in that southern county.
The Central Weather Bureau predicted that Morakot would bring about 2000 mm of accumulated rainfall to the island.
The rain was welcomed in some areas, as Taiwan had experienced an unusually dry spell in the first seven months of the year, with accumulated precipitation recorded at 700 mm, or half of the normal volume.
Before the approach of Typhoon Morakot last week, at least four counties had begun rationing water.
But on Saturday morning, Shihmen Reservoir in Taoyuan County, which was almost half dry last week, had to open its floodgates as Morakot had filled it up in just one day.
However, the storm wreaked havoc on air and sea transportation, forcing airlines and shipping companies to cancel all outbound flights and marine services until Saturday noon.
By Saturday afternoon, about 80 percent of domestic and international flights had resumed.
At its peak strength Friday, the storm caused power outages in 896,833 households around the island and electricity grid workers had to brave the strong winds and heavy rain to fix the power system, according to Taiwan Power Company.
At Saturday noon, some 163,075 households were still without power, the company said.
Mudslides were reported in mountainous areas in the counties of Nantou, Pingdong and Taitung, forcing the closure of some bridges during the storm.
The torrential rain, coinciding with the monthly tide along the coastline of southern Taiwan, triggered flooding in the townships of Linbian, Jiadong, Donggang and Sinyuan, all in Pingdong County.
In some parts of Linbian, where the land had subsided because of overdrawing of underground water, the floodwaters were more than two meters deep and firefighters had to use inflatable rafts to rescue people.
Flooding was also reported in Taimali, Taitung County where a river bank broke and a dozen residential buildings were half submerged.
Meanwhile in Kaohsiung City, many streets were flooded by knee-deep water as the drainage system could not handle the rainfall. (By Maubo Chang)