Taiwan Downgrades Nanmadol as Storm Weakens, Leaves Land

Taiwan downgraded Nanmadol to a tropical storm as it lost strength and headed out to sea after authorities had earlier evacuated people in its path, shut schools and warned of heavy rain, flooding and mudslides.

Sustained winds weakened to 101 kilometers (63 miles) per hour, with gusts of 126 kilometers per hour, from winds of 119 kilometers per hour and 155 kilometer-per-hour gusts reported earlier, the Central Weather Bureau said on its website. The storm’s center hit southern Taiwan, with no immediate reports of deaths.

Nanmadol was the first typhoon to make landfall in Taiwan this year. Typhoon Megi last year killed 36 people, while more than 600 died in 2009 when Morakot struck, prompting the premier and cabinet to resign over their handling of the disaster. Most deaths were in mountainous regions.

All schools across mainland Taiwan were ordered shut today while offices in southern Tainan, Kaohsiung and Pingtung and Eastern Yilan, Hualien and Taitung were closed, the Central Personnel Administration said.

The storm was offshore 40 kilometers east-southeast of the outlying Penghu islands at 4:15 p.m., and headed toward China’s Fujian province at 7 kilometers per hour, the bureau reported. More than 500 millimeters of rain had fallen on the coastal city of Hualien in the east and Hengchun at the southern end of Taiwan.

More than 8,000 people had been evacuated by noon today and 22,000 military personnel were on standby, according to the National Fire Agency. Fifteen roads remained cut off and 37 local and domestic flights were canceled, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications said in a press release.

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