TAIPEI (Reuters) – Taiwan said on Friday typhoon Chanthu could make landfall this weekend, bringing strong winds and pouring rain in what would be the first typhoon to directly hit the island in two years.
Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau said the storm was expected to skirt the island’s sparsely populated and mountainous east coast before touching down on its northeast corner late Sunday afternoon close to capital Taipei, and then head towards China’s Zhejiang province.
The Taiwanese transport ministry said a dozen domestic flights had already been cancelled, though there was no impact yet on international flights.
Tracking website Tropical Storm Risk forecast it would hit Taiwan as a category four typhoon, one level below a super typhoon, with winds of up to 250 km/h (156 mp/h), and then loose strength.
However, according to the Central Weather Bureau’s forecast, it is likely to keep far enough away from Taiwan’s globally important semiconductor factories on its west coast to avoid causing them damage, plants that provide the chips found in everything from smartphones to cars.
In 2009, floods and landslides caused by typhoon Morakot killed around 700 people in Taiwan, the deadliest storm to ever hit the island.
Subtropical Taiwan relies on the typhoon season to replenish its reservoirs, but after none hit the island last year water levels dropped drastically, leading to Taiwan’s worst drought in history and widespread water restrictions.
The drought ended after heavy rainfall in the late spring and early summer.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; editing by Philippa Fletcher)