Words of advice from an expat…
Are you planning to visit Taiwan this summer?
Congratulations! You couldn’t have chosen a better destination. Summer is a great time to visit Formosa, especially if you’re a beach lover. However, you should be warned against something… TAIWANESE TYPHOONS!!!
When is the typhoon season in Taiwan?
Most typhoons hit Taiwan during the summer months, between July and September. We usually have four to five typhoons a year.
2017 Update: Nowadays, with global warming and all the weather instability and changing patterns throughout the world, things have changed, even in Taiwan. Seasons are no longer fixed between traditional dates. February can be as hot as July, and March can feel like September. Typhoons in Taiwan use to be somewhat predictable, as I wrote before, between July and September. Now, you can get a powerful typhoon slamming on the island anytime of the year, even in December.
What does “typhoon” mean?
The word “typhoon” comes from the mandarin term tai feng, which means supreme winds. It’s the same thing as a hurricane in the States or a cyclone in the U.K. – a powerful storm that brings intense rain and fierce winds.
What does it feel like to be in a typhoon in Taiwan?
If it’s a big one, you’ll definitely feel it no matter if you’re indoor or outdoor.
From the “comfort” of your house or apartment, you’ll hear the strong wind howl around your building and the rain batter the metal roofs of older houses in the neighborhood.
If you’re outside, you’ll have a very clear idea of what it must be like inside a dishwasher.
Worst places to be when a typhoon hits the island:
- East Coast: Most Typhoons arrive from the Pacific Ocean, so the eastern part of Taiwan is usually hit harder then other parts. Places which feel the storm harder are: Hualien, Yilan, Keelung, Taitung, Green Island (Ludao), Orchid Island (Lanyu).
- Mountains: Landslides occur frequently when rainfall is significant, so mountainous areas are especially hazardous. Places you don’t want to be in a powerful typhoon: Hehuanshan, Alishan, Yushan, Central Mountain Range, Taroko Gorge, Central Mountain Range. Don’t go for a hike, trek, or camping if there is a typhoon advisory for Taiwan.
- Coastal areas/beaches aren’t safe either. Typhoon waves are bigger, choppier and they generally reach further inland. Do not go for a swim or surf if there’s a typhoon! Places to avoid: Kenting, or any beach along the East Coast. Obviously, follow the CWB (Central Weather Bureau) advice and keep up to date.
- On an airplane that’s trying to land!!
Stay indoor! Don’t ride your scooter!
The first year I got here, I rode in a very powerful typhoon, at night, when the streets were deserted, and I got ejected from my scooter by a strong gust. Luckily, I got away without any injury and my bike only lost a mirror.
There’s a reason why these tropical storms are nicknamed the supreme winds. Signs and power-lines fall off, windows break, trees are uprooted and flooding is expected. It’s not uncommon to see Taiwanese people walking to 7/11 wearing a helmet.
How can you prepare for a Taiwanese typhoon?
- Rent movies, buy chips, beer, instant noodles.
- Tape your windows in a criss-cross fashion with packing tape so you don’t end up with shattered glass and inches of water all over your floor. It really works! Trust me.
- Get lots of towels ready.
- Remove any electronic apparel that’s close to a window. With the force of the wind, water can easily push its way under the most sophisticated windows – even when they are tightly closed and sealed and locked. I’ve been here for ten years – again… believe me! I know what I’m talking about.
Taiwanese kids love typhoons!
A Typhoon is to Taiwanese kids what a snowstorm is to North American children. Big typhoons mean that schools are closed.Bad weather also means they can stay indoor all day long and do nothing else then watching TV and playing video games. Workers who get “paid typhoon days” also enjoy those days off as well.
Where to get information?
Every time a typhoon approaches the island, Taiwanese news stations go nuts and talk about it as if the end of the world was here. TVBS – Channel 56 (Chinese only) is especially good at exaggerating the situation. This channel is where you can see if there’s gonna be work or school on typhoon days.
Online English News and Forecast
TaiwanNews.com has the best English news about Taiwan and their typhoon updates are usually very helpful.
The Central Weather Bureau Website is the ultimate online destination to check forecasts about Typhoons in Taiwan, weather reports and climate info. You can see animated satellite images, current conditions all over the island, a typhoon’s current positionand expected path, its strength and many more cool stuff.
Taiwan typhoon season travel tips
- Find out about flight re-scheduling or reimbursement as well as travel insurance.
- Stay informed about the latest weather bulletin.
- Put your laptop, MP3 player, cell phone and passport in plastic bags.
- Buy a good rain cover for your backpack.
- Get cheap, plastic flip-flops. Fabric ones take forever to dry!
Want more Taiwan Travel information?
Follow these links:
Taipei: The nation’s capital city, home to the 101 building, hundreds of temples, paradise for shopping enthusiasts, history, museums, pictures…
Taichung: Taiwan’s second biggest city, ten-month-a-year-sunshine, scores of finger-licking tables, English teaching mecca, central location, close to Nantou County…
Hiking in Taiwan Travel Guide: Discover the remote Central Mountain Range. Hiking trails, maps, pictures, slideshows, travel information, permits…
Chinese Gods: Traditional ceremonies, Chinese religion, firework, masks, photo gallery…