1st tropical storm of year brewing, impact on Taiwan uncertain

Tropical Storm Vongfong forming SE of Philippines, future path not yet clear

(Typhoon2000 image)

(Typhoon2000 image)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A tropical depression lurking to the southeast of the Philippines is expected to form the first tropical storm of the year, but as models of its future path differ, the extent to which it will impact Taiwan is not yet known.

If the tropical depression gains enough strength over the coming days, it will be dubbed Tropical Storm Vongfong (黃蜂, wasp), making it the first tropical storm of the year. As to whether it will affect Taiwan, weather experts Wu Der-rong (吳德榮) and Peng Chi-ming (彭啟明) both believe that continuous observation will be needed to attain a clearer picture.

Wu, a National Central University adjunct associate professor of atmospheric sciences, said that regarding the low-pressure system currently situated in the Philippine Sea, the latest simulations from various countries show it potentially developing into a tropical storm. The models for the storm's projected path vary wildly, with some having it turning northward and missing Taiwan altogether and others having it entering the South China Sea before swinging north to impact the south of the island.

(JTWC Tropical Warnings map)

Wu pointed out that the models predict the system's movements over the course of a week, so there is a great deal of uncertainty regardless of the predicted intensity or path. As for a direct hit on Taiwan, Wu said that it is too early to predict at this stage.

Peng, who is president of WeatherRisk Explore Inc., said that it will be important to monitor the development of the tropical depression throughout this week. He also said it is too early to accurately predict its path and that more data will be available once it becomes a full-fledged tropical storm.

(Tropical Tidbits map)

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