Image from NASA Earth Observatory
Typhoon Fanapi (颱風凡那比) was the first typhoon to directly hit Taiwan this year. It made landfall at Fengbin in Hualien County at 8:40am on Sunday 19 September. The typhoon packed winds that exceeded 200 kilometres per hour. It also caused a Foehn wind which resulted in elevated temperatures in Taitung on Sunday morning.
Some of the areas that experienced the heaviest rainfall were also the ones affected by Typhoon Morakot in August last year. Some locations in Pingtung County recorded over 1,000 millimetres of rain. According to the Central Weather Bureau website as of 5pm Monday Majia in Pingtung County had recorded 1,123.5 millimetres of rain. Shangdewen in Sandimen Township of Pingtung County had recored 1,007 millimetres in the same period.
The heavy rains resulted in flooding in areas of Pingtung County and Kaohsiung City and County. Television news is reporting that the floods in Kaohsiung City are the worst in 50 years. Focus Taiwan (CNA) reports:
In southern Taiwan, the wind damage was not that great but the area suffered severe flooding as the storm dumped about 600 millimeters (mm) of rain on that region.
“Several districts in Kaohsiung County, including Gangshan, recorded the highest volume of rainfall in history Sunday, ” Chi Feng-hsiung, a Kaohsiung City government official, said Monday.
The typhoon caused flooding in 77 boroughs in the southern city, wrecking the personal property of residents in the area, according to Kaohsiung City government statistics.
Kaohsiung residents blamed the city’s sewage and drainage system, which they said was not designed to handle the volume of rain brought by Fanapi.
The system was designed for the drainage of a maximum of 321 mm of accumulated rainfall over a 24-hour period. However, on Sunday, the 24-hour accumulated rainfall in several areas of Kaohsiung City and County exceeded 576 mm.
The extent of the flooding led Premier Wu Den-yih to note that facilities need to be upgraded to cope with climate change. CNA reports:
Flooding to the extent experienced as a result of Fanapi was expected to happen just once in 200 years, far exceeding what the existing flood control facilities are able to deal with, Wu said while visiting an emergency operations center in Taipei.
“Because of severe climate change, all public flood control facilities — no matter whether they are expanded existing ones or completely new — need to be designed with the possibility of such heavy rainfall in mind, ” Wu said.
Typhoon Fanapi and the associated floods highlights the vulnerability of many areas in Taiwan to extreme rainfall events. Planning for future events needs to take into account the effects of climate change. As the memory of Typhoon Morakot is still vivid many people were better prepared and knew how to avoid the risks in this case. It also seems the government took a far more proactive approach to dealing with the storm. Perhaps it was part show for political purposes, but that is far better than the slow and ineffective response to last year’s far more serious Typhoon Morakot.
There was also plenty of online activity related to the typhoon. The @taiwanfloods Twitter account has been busily tweeting Chinese-language updates about the typhoon and floods. The Storm2k forum has a very active discussion about the typhoon. The site has lots of meteorology buffs and storm chasers discussing the storm. There is lots of technical information plus a few on the ground observations.
Tony Coolidge posted some photos on his blog of damage to a high school in Tainan County. Kerim posted a video on YouTube showing the strength of the wind in Hualien. Michael Turton posted some videos of the typhoon in Taichung County. Troy Simpson had several posts reporting the impact of the typhoon in Kaohsiung. He has some videos of the typhoon as it hit and photos of the aftermath. Sandy has some photos of the post-storm damage in Neipu, Pingtung County. Barking Deer News has some updates on the condition of mountain trails. @ItsLesleyBee posted some photos of her flooded school on twitpic.