Typhoon Morakot Hits Taiwan

Typhoon Morakot (International designation: 0908, JTWC designation: 09W, PAGASA name: Kiko) was the deadliest typhoon to impact Taiwan in recorded history.

It formed early on August 2, 2009 as an unnamed tropical depression. During that day the depression gradually developed before being upgraded to a tropical storm and assigned the name Morakot, by the Japan Meteorological Agency late on August 3. The large system gradually intensified as it tracked westward towards Taiwan. By August 5, the JMA and JTWC upgraded Morakot to a typhoon. Due to the size of the typhoon, the barometric pressure steadily decreased; however, maximum winds only increased slightly. Early on August 7, the storm attained its peak intensity with winds of 150 km/h (90 mph 10-minute sustained) according to the JMA. The JTWC reported the storm to be slightly stronger, with winds peaking at 155 km/h (100 mph 1-minute sustained), the equivalent of a Category 2 hurricane on the Saffir–Simpson Hurricane Scale. Morakot weakened slightly before making landfall in central Taiwan later that day. Roughly 24 hours later, the storm emerged back over water into the Taiwan Strait and weakened to a severe tropical storm before making landfall in China on August 9. The storm gradually weakened as it continued to slowly track inland. The remnants of the typhoon eventually dissipated on August 11.

Typhoon Morakot wrought catastrophic damage in Taiwan, leaving 461 people dead and 192 others missing, most of whom are feared dead and roughly NT$110 billion ($3.3 billion USD) in damages. The storm produced copious amounts of rainfall, peaking at 2,777 mm (109.3 in), surpassing the previous record of 1,736 mm (68.35 in) set by Typhoon Herb in 1996. The extreme amount of rain triggered enormous mudslides and severe flooding throughout southern Taiwan. One mudslide buried the entire town of Xiaolin killing an estimated 500 people in the village alone. The slow moving storm also caused widespread damage in China, leaving eight people dead and causing $1.4 billion (USD) in damages. Nearly 2,000 homes were destroyed in the country and 136,000 more were reported to have sustained damage. The storm also caused severe flooding in the northern Philippines that killed 26 people.

Taiwan's climate is marine tropical. The northern part of the island has a rainy season that lasts from January through late March during the northeast monsoon, and experiences meiyu in May. The entire island experiences hot, humid weather from June through September. The middle and southern parts of the island do not have an extended monsoon season during the winter months. Natural hazards such as typhoons and earthquakes are common in the region.