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Saola develops into typhoon; downpours expected islandwide

2012/07/31 10:55:30

Taipei, July 31 (CNA) A tropical storm heading toward Taiwan was upgraded to a full-blown typhoon early Tuesday, and the Central Weather Bureau expects it to deliver extreme rainfall to parts of the island until Aug. 2.

As of 8 a.m., Typhoon Saola was centered 330 kilometers east-southeast of Taiwan's southernmost tip, moving at a speed of 8 km per hour in a north-northwesterly direction, and was packing sustained winds of 119 kph, with gusts reaching 155 kph.

According to bureau projections, the eye of the storm should skirt Taiwan's northeastern tip Thursday morning.

Since Saola is moving slowly, the bureau said, it could absorb more energy and moisture from the ocean and pose a greater threat to Taiwan.

Bureau data show that some areas of the island had already seen substantial rainfall in the early hours of Tuesday.

Yilan County in northeastern Taiwan was the worst hit, with Taiping Mountain accumulating 290.5 millimeters of rain between midnight and 10:12 a.m.

Meanwhile, weather stations in Hsinchu County in northern Taiwan and Taichung in central Taiwan have recorded accumulated precipitation of up to 160 mm and 101.5 mm, respectively, during the same 10-hour period.

If Saola continues on its current path, the bureau said, it will continue to affect the northeastern part of the island the most.

A land warning for Saola, the ninth storm of the 2012 Pacific typhoon season, could be issued Tuesday afternoon at the earliest, and precipitation ranging from showers to heavy rainfall is likely across Taiwan until the weekend, the bureau said.

(By Lee Hsin-Yin)