Typhoon Haikui

The Landslide Blog is written by Dave Petley, who is widely recognized as a world leader in the study and management of landslides.

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Over the last two weeks, I travelled with my daughter Holly through Taiwan on vacation. Loyal readers will know that in the early part of my career I spent some time in Taiwan working on landslides triggered by typhoons. During this period I was in the path of a number of storms, but did not pass through the eye.

Quite by coincidence, Holly and I were staying in the southern city of Taitung when Typhoon Haikui came ashore. This was the first landfalling typhoon for Taiwan for a number of years. Whilst it was not the largest storm on record by any means, it caused significant disruption in Taiwan, and the remains went on to trigger landslides in Hong Kong and in southern China. The track map shows it passing right across southern Taiwan.

Ahead of the arrival of the storm, preparations were underway in my hotel to ensure that, for example, the doors were not blown open:

Staff at the Sheraton Hotel barricading the front doors ahead of the arrival of Typhoon  Haikui.
Staff at the Sheraton Hotel barricading the front doors ahead of the arrival of Typhoon Haikui.

We were sheltering in the Sheraton Hotel when the storm came ashore. I captured the sequence of events on my phone from my room on the 18th floor.

This first video shows the early phases of the storm as it started to come ashore:-

YouTube video

This period of strong wind, blowing from the north, was disruptive but not particularly damaging.

We were fortunate enough to be in the path of the eye of the typhoon. This next video shows the conditions as the eye crossed Taitung. The interaction between the Typhoon Haikui and the mountains of Taiwan meant that the eye had started to break up, so the conditions remained cloudy:

YouTube video

As you can see, the winds died down and the rain stopped. It remained like this for about 30 minutes. Towards the end of this time we could see the eyewall approaching:-

The eyewall of Typhoon Haikui approaching Taitung in Taiwan.
The eyewall of Typhoon Haikui approaching Taitung in Taiwan

During this phase we could see the circulation around and within the now deteriorating eye. The video below just about captures this – in the foreground the clouds are moving left to right (north to south), but in the distance they are travelling right to left (south to north):

YouTube video

And then the eyewall passed through, and the storm hit with a vengeance:-

YouTube video

Note that the winds were blowing from south to north (from right to left in the video), the opposite of the early phases of the storm.

These conditions lasted for about an hour and then started to calm down. Within a few hours it was still again. The storm left quite a mess but little serious damage in Taitung:-

The aftermath of Typhoon Haikui in Taitung, Taiwan.
The aftermath of Typhoon Haikui in Taitung, Taiwan.

The following morning the roads were sufficiently clear that we were able to drive north out of the city, and up to Hualien.

Experiencing the eye of a typhoon had been on my bucket list for years, so this was quite an experience. I was extremely fortunate that I was in a strong building. Typhoons must be terrifying for those who do not have adequate shelter.

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