First typhoon of the year could be on the way

Tropical depression to cross Philippines over the weekend

Image from Central Weather Bureau, Taiwan.

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – A tropical depression located east of the Philippines could turn into the first typhoon of the year 2017, the Central Weather Bureau said Friday.

If the depression continues to gain strength, it will carry the name Muifa (梅花) or ‘plum blossom,’ but its eventual impact on Taiwan is still far from certain, forecasters said.

On Friday, the center of the weather system was still located 1,700 kilometers southeast of Taiwan’s southern tip, Oluanpi, and moving west-northwest at a speed of 15 km per hour, the weather bureau said.

A key factor determining its future development and direction was its imminent landfall in the Philippines, which could potentially weaken the depression or send it into another direction altogether, according to forecasters.

Weather expert Wu Der-rong (吳德榮) predicted the storm would cross the central Philippines this weekend, move into the South China Sea on Monday and then commence a climb up along the west coast of Luzon to turn northeast into the Bashi Channel separating Taiwan from the Philippines next Wednesday, April 19.

While most simulations of its route showed the storm staying well away from Taiwan, Wu said, there were some more recent results showing the opposite, leading him to conclude that it was still too early to tell what would actually happen next week.

One of the possibilities was that the depression would develop into a tropical storm just before making landfall in the Philippines, but be broken up during its passage over land and degrade into a depression again, Wu said.