Tropical storm could threaten northern Taiwan by Monday

Tropical Storm Maria could soon form into typhoon which could threaten Taiwan by Monday

CWB map of Tropical Storm Maria's predicted path.

CWB map of Tropical Storm Maria's predicted path.

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- Tropical Storm Maria, the eighth tropical storm of the year, formed last night and though the Central Weather Bureau (CWB) initially forecasted that it would not have a direct impact on Taiwan, if a high-pressure system strengthens, the storm could change its course and lash northern Taiwan by Monday.

The CWB says that Tropical Storm Maria is currently about 2,750 kilometers east-southeast of Eluanbi, the southern tip of Taiwan, and is moving 14 kilometers on a northwesterly trajectory towards Okinawa. At present, it does not appear that it is headed toward Taiwan, and if high pressure over the Pacific remains weak, the storm will likely continue its path toward Japan.

However, if high pressure over the Pacific strengthens, the storm could turn to a more southernly course and lash northern Taiwan, but it is too early to make an accurate prediction at this stage.

According to weather risk analysis companies on Facebook, Maria is expected to follow the edge of a Pacific high-pressure ridge over the next five days on a northwesterly trajectory, before changing to a west-northwesterly path toward the Ryukyu Islands of Japan. The United States Global Forecast System (GFS) predicts that the Pacific high-pressure system will be weak and therefore it expects the storm to move in a north-northwesterly direction toward the southern Japanese Island of Kyushu.

Meanwhile, the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMMF) predicts that the storm will be more affected by the high-pressure system and will move more to the south toward Okinawa and potentially follow a track that is closer to Taiwan.

According to Cheng Ming-dean (鄭明典), director of the bureau's Meteorological Research and Development Center, the convective development of Maria's center was very thick this morning and the symmetry was good. With the high local ocean heat and little in the way of sheering of vertical winds, he predicts that the storm will enter a phase of rapid development and its intensity will be further enhanced.

Wu Der-rong (吳德榮), professor of meteorology at National Central University predicts that Maria will continue to grow in size and strength and become a relatively strong typhoon. As for its future path, Wu said the CWB's model of its path over the next five days shows Maria moving in a northwesterly direction before changing to a west-northwesterly path, however there is a large degree of uncertainty at this stage. Wu emphasized that the future path could be drastically adjusted and it is too early to say whether it will impact Taiwan.

WeatherRisk Explore Inc. President Peng Chi-ming (彭啟明) said predicted that the storm is being guided by a high-pressure system and it will move through an adjustment phase over the next two days during which time it might slow down, before speeding up on Sunday and head towards the Ryukyu Islands. Peng predicted that if it were to near Taiwan, it will most likely come closest on Monday or Tuesday and based an average of the current weather models by various countries, the storm could come within 500 to 700 kilometers of the country and have a slight effect.

As for today's weather, the CWB said that the southwest winds are starting to weaken each day and therefore rainfall intensity is starting to decrease. However, there are still possibilities of some brief showers or thunderstorms in central and southern Taiwan during the morning. The CWB has issued a heavy rain advisory for Tainan City and Kaohsiung City and an extremely heavy rain advisory for Pingtung County.

The rest of Taiwan should see mostly cloudy skies during the daytime and brief thunderstorms in the afternoon. High temperatures will range between 30 to 35 degrees Celsius in much of Taiwan, while an orange heat warning has been issued in Taipei City, where the mercury is expected to climb to 36 degrees.