Typhoon Morakot moved toward Taiwan Thursday, promising to bring heavy rain and high winds to the island and other areas over the next few days.
Taiwanese Premier Liu Chao-shiuan examined the island’s emergency operation center and asked all personnel to stay on high alert over the next day, when the typhoon is forecast to “affect all regions of Taiwan,” according to Taiwan’s Central News Agency. Government offices and schools island-wide will be closed Friday in preparation for the arrival of the medium-strength typhoon, CNA reported. The Taiwan Stock Exchange also announced that it would be closed Friday and would postpone trading until Monday, the news agency reported. As of 11 a.m. ET, the storm’s winds were about 92 mph (148 km/hr) with gusts up to 115 mph (185 km/hr) according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center. Morakot was about 236 miles (380 kilometers) from Taiwan’s east coast, and was moving westward at about 15 mph (24 km), the center said. The storm’s outer bands were already dumping rain on Taiwan and parts of the northern Philippines as of Thursday night, CNN International Forecaster Mari Ramos reported. Taiwan and Eastern China are particularly vulnerable to flash flooding and mudslides because of the proximity of the mountains to the sea. The Joint Typhoon Warning Center said the storm would strengthen slightly as it moved westward toward Taiwan over the next day, but would weaken after it crossed land.
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It was expected to make landfall early Saturday (late afternoon or early evening Friday EST), Ramos reported. Noting that the storm was large, with tropical storm force winds extending more than 217 miles (350 kilometers) from its center, she said the island would experience those winds far before the storm made landfall.