Fitow skirts Taiwan, brings heavy rain to north

TAIPEI, Taiwan - The Central Weather Bureau (CWB) is expected to lift the land warning for Typhoon Fitow this morning as the storm skirted Taiwan and headed toward Matsu Island last night.

Local governments in mainland Taiwan yesterday announced that schools and offices will open as per normal today. In Matsu, however, classes and work are suspended due to the typhoon.

The CWB said that heavy rainfall brought by Fitow was recorded in New Taipei, Taoyuan, Hsinchu, and Miaoli. The bureau warned earlier that Jianshi Township in Hsinchu could see the highest rainfall.

The CWB said that as of late yesterday, rainfall in Jianshi was recorded at 537 mm, adding that Wulai in New Taipei, Fuxing in Taoyuan, Taian in Miaoli, and Wufeng in Hsinchu each have recorded over 300 mm of rainfall.

In other mountainous areas, Yilan, Nantou and Taichung should expect substantial rainfall, the CWB said.

Hsinchu County yesterday evacuated over 200 residents from Jianshi and Wufeng as a precautionary measure against torrential rain brought by the typhoon.

Hsinchu Emergency Operation Center said that by 3 p.m. yesterday, the government had evacuated 190 people from Jianshi Township and 41 people from Wufeng Township.

The Hsinchu Government said it had issued mudslide-warnings for the two townships.

Taipei and New Taipei yesterday both closed water gates in anticipation of rain. New Taipei warned people against entering Hsintian, Dahan and Tamsui riverside parks in light of safety concerns.

Tamsui Township's famous statue of George Mackay, the kneeling bronze statue located on Tamsui riverside, was flooded yesterday due to constant heavy rain, according to the Central News Agency.

The statue was immersed in seawater when tropical storm Trami swept the nation in mid-August.

The Water Resources Agency (WRA) said given that Shihmen and Feitsui reservoirs had discharged water to decrease channel capacity, and the highest tide occurred while the typhoon was moving closer to Northern Taiwan, it was expected that Tamsui riverside would see some minor flooding.

The WRA said that in order to discharge floodwater in time, the agency has installed 712 large portable water pumps in every city as a precautionary measure, noting that there will be 1,517 volunteers across the nation to report any flooding to the agency as soon as possible.

The CWB said Typhoon Fitow was 200 kilometers north of Taipei last night at 10 p.m., moving west-northwest at 18 kilometers per hour, packing winds of 35 meters per second at its centre and heading for Matsu Island.

Northern Taichung, Nantou, and northern Hualien are still under the influence of Typhoon Fitow's centre, the CWB said.

Taiwan's Western coast and Matsu Island will see rainfall and strong winds as the typhoon moves west, the CWB added.

The CWB said that areas on the northwest coast from Tamsui to Miaoli County should be aware of potential flooding and seawater intrusion.

A sea and land warning for Matsu are expected to be lifted by this afternoon, the CWB predicted.

A total of 86 international flights from or to Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport have been delayed or cancelled as of Sunday evening, as Typhoon Fitow was moving in the direction of the airport.

The Taoyuan International Airport authorities urged passengers to check with their respective carriers for the latest flight information.

Taoyuan yesterday closed sections of the North Cross-Taiwan Highway at the 49- and 34.8-kilometer marks yesterday because of road damage from fallen rocks.