Surprise Typhoon

Typhoon Matsa didn’t get a whole lot of coverage over the last few days. It was expected to move northwesterly off the east coast of Taiwan heading up towards the Shanghai area. We were expecting some good rain, but it was expected to mostly just scoot by without much impact. Since we only got the edge of it, we were spared a lot of the strong winds, but we did get a lot of rain. All last night here we got heavy rain, pretty much continuously. Plus the typhoon has started moving slowly in a westerly direction off the north of the island, which means we’ll probably get even more rain through tomorrow. Readings in the Taipei area are as high as 578mm of rainfall, and some places are reporting more than a meter of rainfall. Plenty of mudslides, roads buried or washed out, rivers overflowing, etc. Schools and businesses are officially closed today in Taipei, though there are still quite a few shops that have opened up. No flooding in this area.

Typhoon –> Earthquake

Had a nice little shake about 25 minutes ago.

2005/07/20 21:06 Magnitude: 5.4 No.: 123 (0720210654123)

07月20日21時06分 規模:5.4 編號:123 (0720210654123)

Typhoon updates

News is now reporting there are some people killed by the storm, so we didn’t get off so easy after all. The numbers vary depending on which channel you watch though.

To give you an idea of the scale of the storm, Taipei got 641mm (25.2 inches), and other areas got as much as 1273mm (50.1 inches) so far from this one storm. In just a couple of days. And it’s still raining. In comparison, the average yearly rainfall in Santa Barbara is around 18 inches, and a storm that leaves 2 inches is considered big.

While today’s forecast shows 100% chance of rain for most of the island today, in Taipei at least the rain is not heavy today.

Typhoon petering out

This time we got off relatively easily. Our neighborhood didn’t get flooded, and the storm had mostly petered out by noon. It was calm enough that I went out to get snacks in the afternoon and there was just a bit of a drizzle. There was a lot of leaves and small branches and assorted garbage littering the street, and there were some motor scooters and bikes that got knocked over, but nothing seriously wrong in our immediate vicinity. The eye of the storm is just leaving the east coast, so while we may get some heavy rain yet from the tail of the storm passing through, but we’re probably over the worst of it.

Other parts of Taiwan are not so lucky. There was lots of flooding, rivers overrunning their banks, bridges washed out, signs knocked over, cars bashed in, etc. Fortunately there is nobody reported dead though, so that’s good news. Three things from TV stuck out about the storm:

When we go to Hualien on the east coast, we stay at the Parkview Hotel there. It’s close to the airport and fairly nice and modern. One of the nice features was the ground floor restaurant where we ate breakfast each morning. It was off the lobby in a large 3 story high atrium with huge glass windows surrounding the dining/buffet area. This is kind of a small picture, but it’ll give you an idea of what it looked like:

I use the past tense because the typhoon blew out all the windows in the atrium and completely destroyed the dining/buffet area. Hualien is more or less at the center of where the Typhoon made landfall.

A temporary construction trailer next to a parking lot was ripped from it’s foundation and hurtled 50 meters through the air to the other side of the parking lot, badly damaging three cars and crushing two others.

And on the lighter side, there was a hilarious video of some farmers rescuing some bulls from flooding. They used a rope to pull the first bull up out of the water and as soon as he gets out he runs straight at the camera, just missing the camera operator, and as the camera swings around the bull is running into the street which is covered by quite a bit of water and then fwoop, he loses his footing and lands on his ass.

In somewhat related news, burglars took advantage of the typhoon to rip off a Gucci store on here in Taipei, taking off with a large stash of high end purses, shoes, etc.


Typhoon Haitang is our first typhoon of the year, and it’s looking like it’ll be a big one, and it’s almost certainly going to hit us head-on. Since I’ve lived here, our neighborhood has had major flooding twice. About four years back we had flooding over two meters deep outside the house where we used to live. Ours was on the second floor though. But Maggie’s shop’s basement got flooded and they lost some equipment, the TV, etc. That area is a bit higher, so the ground floor was OK.

We started getting rain for this 颱風 early this afternoon. Maggie was getting nervous, so she decided to go over to her shop to get things ready. As we were leaving, my mother in law came back and said that shops were running out of food, so we went over to the Landis Hotel bakery down at the end of our lane to buy some bread and donuts. Other than that we’re pretty well stocked with food.

There was a lull in the rain so getting to Maggie’s shop was no problem. Some of her apprentices were there to help, so it was pretty quick work, though things like the 30″ TV and a mid-size refrigerator were pretty difficult to get up. By the time we were finished, the rain was pouring down and wind was blowing pretty strong, so it was quite an adventure getting back home. We took a bit of a long way to maximize use of covered walkways. Maggie had a rain jacket and I had an umbrella, but I think I got the raw end of that deal because with the wind blowing, I ended up getting soaked anyways.

On the way home the grocery store and the Blockbuster Video were both packed with people, and the convenience stores were doing pretty brisk business too. The Landis Hotel was putting boards up on their windows. The hotel also had flood gates installed, and the work just finished a bit over a week ago, so good timing. That intersection tends to flood a meter deep or so during a big storm.

Our lane slopes upward, a fact I hadn’t really noticed until after the flooding last time. The end down by the hotel was flooded, but our end was just above the flood level. We’re on the 5th and 6th floor, but flooding would mean we’d probably lose electrical and phone (and DSL!!) service, and we’d probably have to chip in to pump water out of the basement and probably replace the water pump that pumps city water up to the tanks on the roof. Still, we’re just high enough upslope that we’ll probably be OK.

Right now we’re just getting the edge of the storm. The eye is still several hundred miles offshore. The prediction has the brunt of it hitting us tomorrow, and we’ll probably be stuck inside most if not all of the day.