Tropical Storm Maria strengthens into typhoon; path still unsure: CWB

Taipei, Tropical Storm Maria has developed into a typhoon and is now packing winds of up to 162 kilometers per hour, with a good chance of strengthening, the Central Weather Bureau (CWB) said Friday.

The storm was upgraded to a typhoon in the wee hours of Friday and was still on a north-northwesterly track, moving at a speed of 7 kph, the bureau said.

As of 8 a.m., Typhoon Maria was located about 2,340 kilometers east southeast of Eluanbi on Taiwan's southernmost tip and was moving toward the Ryukyu island chain, which lies between Japan and Taiwan, the weather bureau said.

It was carrying maximum sustained winds of 162 kph, with gusts of up to 198 kph, according to the CWB.

However, the factors affecting the storm's track remained variable, the bureau said.

It said a Pacific high pressure system was one of the main factors and could push the storm either closer to Taiwan or further away over the next few days.

For the rest of this week, however, Taiwan will not see any direct effects of the storm, except for some possible rough waves along its coastlines, the CWB said.

The bureau issued a heavy rain advisory for seven counties and cities in central and southern Taiwan on Friday, but said the rain was not part of the typhoon system.

Changhua, Yunlin, Chiayi and Pingtung counties, and Tainan, Kaohsiung and Chiayi cities, can expect heavy rains, thunderstorms and strong wind gusts, the bureau said in the advisory.

It has advised that people living in low-lying areas in the seven municipalities take precautions against flooding and has cautioned residents in mountainous areas to stay alert to the possibility of landslides and rock falls.

Meanwhile, temperatures in Taiwan were forecast Friday at highs of 34 degrees Celsius in the north and 30-32 degrees in other areas.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel