Wind and wave damage leave 400,000 without power and two dead after the first typhoon of the year.
The eye of Typhoon Nepartak crossed southern Taiwan in about nine hours, making landfall just before dawn on Friday.
The wind, rain and phenomenal seas started earlier, when Nepartak was still a Super Typhoon, and began diminishing later.
The path taken by Nepartak brought it over the top of Taimali Township in Taitung county, then westwards towards Kaohsiung City on the west coast.
It then turned northeast through Kaohsiung’s suburbs and towards Tainan, barrelling through that city and emerging into the Taiwan Strait by the early evening local time.
The strongest winds were near the eye and Taitung City took the full force of the easterlies. Steady winds of 170 kilometres an hour were boosted in destructive gusts to a reported 234km/h. Cars were overturned, trees snapped and cladding stripped off buildings.
Waves of up to 13m in height pounded Green Island and the Taitung coastline. Torrential rain came in horizontally and Taitung City recorded 238mm of it in 21 hours of continuous precipitation.
At least 70 people were injured and two reported dead – one was washed out to sea, and the other drowned.
Tainan, on the west coast, was first raked by northerly winds, then westerlies as the eye crossed the city and then by southeasterlies as the typhoon churned offshore. So far, 136mm of rain has been recorded in the city.
Headed to China
Taiwan’s emergency management service reported that nearly 400,000 households had been affected by power cuts, most of them in Pingtung and Taitung counties. The island’s railway services were suspended, while more than 600 domestic and international flights were cancelled and a further 178 flights delayed.
Authorities said that evacuations in 14 counties and cities had involved more than 15,400 people.
The typhoon’s continuous cloud disc is twice as big as Taiwan is long. Its thunderstorms reach as far northeast as Japan and as far southwest as the Philippines.
Nepartak is now a much weaker typhoon, but is still heading towards the Chinese mainland and the government there has renewed an orange alert for extreme weather.
China has a four-tier, colour-coded weather warning system, with red representing the most severe weather, followed by orange, yellow and blue.
Landfall is expected on Saturday morning near Xiamen City, in Fujian province. Wind and coastal wave damage are likely in both Fujian and Zhejiang provinces.
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|Allen L. Jasson|