TAIPEI: Three to five typhoons are expected to hit Taiwan this year, the Central Weather Bureau (CWB) forecast yesterday. Historically Taiwan is blasted by an average of 3.1 typhoons annually. However over the last five years the number has increased substantially, with Taiwan suffering 4.4 typhoons per year.
The bureau also predicted that 24 to 27 tropical storms and typhoons may form over the northwestern Pacific Ocean this year, slightly below the historical average.
According to the CWB over the past five years, an average of 24.2 tropical storms and typhoons have formed over the western North Pacific each year, less than the historical average of 26.6 a year.
The annual loss caused by typhoons hitting Taiwan has risen to NT$17 billion ($518.6 million) on average. That accounts for about 85 percent of the severe weather damage to Taiwan each year.
Only four to six bad storms are typically reported during the first six months of the year, with the remainder occurring during the latter half.
Taiwan has only three levels of storm classification. Tropical storms, with sustained winds of 40 to 74 miles per hour, are classified as category one typhoons in Taiwan.
The CWB cautions Taiwan residents to take heed of local conditions and to be particularly prepared for heavy weather during the period from June to September.
After the direct onslaught of the storm, flooding is the next most frequently occurring problem after heavy wind damage.
People in low-lying areas are advised to move to higher ground or to move valuables to upper floors when storms hit.
Because of the potential for damage to water mains, the CWB recommends residents have a 5-gallon bottle of water on hand.
The CWB says at present there are no severe storms threatening Taiwan.
(HK Edition 07/01/2009 page2)