TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Tropical Storm In-Fa (烟花) has been upgraded to a severe tropical storm, and its path has shifted slightly towards Taiwan, increasing the possibility that it could strike the country directly.
As of 2 a.m. this morning (July 20), Tropical Storm In-Fa was 1,010 kilometers east of Taipei, moving west-northwest at a speed of 14 kilometers per hour (kph). It had a radius of 120 km and was packing maximum sustained winds of 100 kph with gusts of up to 126 kph.
The Central Weather Bureau (CWB) predicts that the storm will gradually approach the waters off the coast of northern Taiwan Thursday afternoon (July 22) and come closest to the country on Friday (23) before heading towards China on Saturday (July 24). Meteorologist Wu Der-rong (吳德榮) said today that the latest weather model shows that In-Fa's path has shifted to the south, increasing the odds that its eye could make landfall in Taiwan.
Map of In-Fa's predicted path. (JTWC image)
However, because In-Fa is located inside a low-pressure monsoon system with fluctuating influence from a high-pressure ridge and a possible interaction with Tropical Storm Cempaka, there is a high degree of uncertainty about its projected path.
Wu predicted that the storm will intensify into a typhoon. Although its trajectory is still uncertain, he said that chances of it making landfall in Taiwan have increased.
He pointed out that the latest European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) model shows that moisture being transported around the cyclone will increase today and Wednesday (July 21). Occasional showers are likely in northern and eastern Taiwan today, while thunderstorms are possible in mountainous areas of the central and southern regions.
CWB Map of In-Fa's predicted path. (CWB image)
On Wednesday, rainfall in northern Taiwan will increase and gradually spread to the central part of the country. Local showers will also be likely in the south by the afternoon.
Wu estimates that In-Fa will reach its peak intensity between Thursday and Saturday, bringing powerful winds and heavy rains to Taiwan. By Sunday (July 25), Wu predicted that the storm will begin to weaken and that it will be followed by southwest airflow through July 28, potentially bringing a large amount of heavy rain that could rival that of the typhoon.
Map of In-Fa's predicted path as well as predicted intensity, wind speed, and effect on sea levels. (ECMWF image)
Animated GIF of Tropical Storm In-Fa. (NOAA image)