Typhoon Koinu brings heavy rain and winds to Taiwan
By Amy Chang Chien, Jin Yu Young and John Yoon
Typhoon Koinu started pounding Taiwan with heavy rain and winds Wednesday, closing business and schools in the east and triggering warnings in most parts of the island a day before its expected landfall, forecasters said.
Koinu, which formed over the weekend, was about 150 miles east of Taiwan Wednesday morning, the island’s Central Weather Administration said. It was moving west at about 7 mph, carrying maximum sustained winds of 115 mph and even stronger gusts, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, a meteorological service operated by the U.S. Navy.
The storm is expected to make landfall on Taiwan’s southeastern coast Thursday morning, and the island will see the heaviest rainfall Thursday and Friday, Wu Wan-hua, a meteorologist for Taiwan’s weather agency, said at a news conference. Wave heights of more than 7 meters, or 23 feet, are expected around the coasts of southern Taiwan, she added.
Koinu’s winds were equivalent to those of a Category 3 hurricane Wednesday morning, but were expected to weaken to Category 2 levels before landfall, the warning center said. After crossing the southern tip of Taiwan, the storm is likely to weaken into a tropical storm, then graze China’s southeastern coast later in the week, approaching Hong Kong.
The storm’s effects were also being felt in parts of the northern Philippines. Officials in that country have issued wind and rain advisories, warning that landslides were possible in mountainous areas.
Koinu follows Typhoon Saola, which disrupted travel and forced schools to close in Taiwan last month, after prompting evacuations in the Philippines. In July, Typhoon Doksuri caused dozens of deaths in the Philippines from flooding and landslides before grazing Taiwan and eventually making landfall in mainland China.
Koinu, meaning puppy, is a name contributed to the Typhoon Committee by Japan. In the Philippines, where the government has used a parallel naming system for decades, Koinu is known as Jenny.
Typhoons and hurricanes are tropical cyclones with sustained winds of at least 74 mph. The term “hurricane” refers to tropical cyclones in the Atlantic basin; “typhoon” refers to those that form in the northwestern Pacific and affect Asia.
There is a consensus among scientists that climate change is causing tropical cyclones to become more powerful and increasing the likelihood of major storms. Scientists also agree that climate change is affecting the amount of precipitation that storms produce.