Thousands of people were evacuated, airlines canceled hundreds of flights and schools were closed yesterday as Tropical Storm Talim pounded Taiwan.
Hundreds of people were evacuated to military bases in southern Taiwan to keep them safe from the strong winds and heavy rain expected from Talim, the Ministry of National Defense said.
More than 500 residents in disaster-prone areas were given shelter at two military bases in Greater Kaohsiung, while another 149 were evacuated to a military base in Chiayi County, the ministry said.
The military also helped evacuate more than 2,700 residents in areas prone to flooding and landslides, and prepared shelters that can accommodate up to 53,272 people.
In preparation for any emergencies, the ministry said it had more than 48,000 servicemen on standby to provide rescue and relief assistance, along with 201 water pumps, 404 electricity generators, 38 helicopters and planes, and other rescue equipment.
Information from the Civil Aeronautics Administration showed that the nation’s carriers — Uni Air (立榮航空), Mandarin Airlines (華信航空), TransAsia Airways (復興航空), Far Eastern Air Transport (遠東航空) and Daily Air (德安) — had canceled a total of 247 domestic flights to Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu (馬祖), as well as to other parts of the nation.
Fifteen international flights were also canceled.
Both the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) and Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp (台灣高鐵, THSRC) managed to maintain operations yesterday morning, but they announced before noon that their services would be adjusted because of the tropical storm.
All TRA trains scheduled to operate on the South-Link Line yesterday afternoon were canceled. Two train services operating on the North-Link Line along the east coast were also canceled.
Commuter services, on the other hand, were dispatched on different sections depending on the situation.
THSRC announced last night that it would resume normal operations today. The TRA had yet to make a further announcement as of press time last night.
Talim is the first tropical storm to directly hit Taiwan this year, the Central Weather Bureau said.
Early yesterday morning, the bureau extended the land warning for Talim to all parts of the country as the edge of the storm hit the west coast of southern and central Taiwan in the afternoon, bringing torrential rain and causing flooding in some areas.
Areas in northern Taiwan did not experience heavy rain until last night.
Residents in Penghu and Greater Taichung’s Wuci District (梧棲) experienced gusts reaching level 11 to level 12 on the Beaufort scale.
The bureau yesterday warned that Talim could bring extreme rainfall across the country overnight.
Accumulated precipitation between 8pm yesterday and 8pm today could reach up to 700mm in mountainous areas in the south, the bureau said.
Elsewhere, the amount of rain was expected to range between 100mm and 400mm in the north, and 250mm and 500mm in southern Taiwan, according to bureau forecasts.
The bureau said western Taiwan could experience winds of 60kph to 100kph and that stormy seas could be expected in coastal areas.
As of 8pm yesterday, the center of Talim was 160km off the southwest of Taiwan.It was moving at 41kph in a northeasterly direction. The storm was packing maximum sustained winds of 83kph, with gusts reaching 108kph.
The bureau said Talim’s force has weakened and the storm has quickened its pace out of the Taiwan Strait, adding that it would gradually lift its land and sea warnings today.
The bureau said the entire nation must be prepared to brave the rain brought by the southwest monsoon, particularly those in central and southern regions.
“The rainfall pattern will change from sporadic rain to continuous rain, which will cause the rain to accumulate faster,” bureau forecaster Hsieh Min-chang (謝明昌) said.
In anticipation of heavy rain triggered by Talim, many counties and cities decided to cancel work and classes yesterday afternoon and evening.
Water conservation authorities yesterday also issued red-code landslide warnings for 100 rivers.
The landslide-prone rivers lie in Greater Kaohsiung, and Pingtung and Chiayi counties, according to the Council of Agriculture’s Soil and Water Conservation Bureau.
The government agency also issued yellow-code landslide warnings for another 559 rivers in Greater Kaohsiung, Greater Tainan and Greater Taichung, as well as Nantou, Chiayi, Pingtung, Taitung and Yunlin counties.
Meanwhile, the council yesterday began gradually releasing 1,700 tonnes of frozen cabbages to retail markets in an effort to rein in rising vegetable prices caused by crop damage from the heavy rain.
The average price for leafy vegetables in Taipei’s fruit and vegetable wholesale markets increased to NT$27.50 per kilogram as of yesterday, up NT$0.20 from the previous day. That represents an increase of 82 percent since June 8, the start of the most recent period of heavy rainfall.