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Number of typhoons in Western Pacific hits 17-year high

2014/08/08 20:47:14

Satellite image at 8 p.m. Friday shows Typhoon Halong was moving toward Japan. (From the Central Weather Bureau website)

Taipei, Aug. 8 (CNA) The Western Pacific Ocean produced 12 typhoons in the first seven months of this year, a 17-year high, according to WeatherRisk Explore Inc., but only one has hit Taiwan directly.

The number of typhoons in the period has already surpassed the average of 7.87 for the first seven months of a year and matched the record set in 1997, the private weather forecaster said in a report issued earlier this week.

Chia Hsin-hsing, the company's environmental resources director, said the number of typhoons has been up and down since 1976, when it was relatively high, and has peaked again to the highest level seen since 1997.

A year after hitting a high in 1997, only one typhoon formed in the Western Pacific in the first seven months of 1998, the lowest number on record since 1958, he said.

Chia suggested that the relatively high number of typhoons that have formed so far this year could be the likely onset of the El Nino phenomenon, because sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean are higher than those recorded last year.

The increase in sea surface temperatures changes general circulation patterns and makes it easier for typhoons to form and build strength, Chia said.

(By Angela Tsai and Joanne Hsu)