16 September 2008

River bank erosion in Taiwan during Typhoon Sinlaku

Posted by Dave Petley

Over the weekend Typhoon Sinlaku slowly tracked across the northern part of Taiwan (Fig. 1). Whilst attention was diverted towards the landfall of Hurricane Ike in Texas, this typhoon wreaked considerable havoc across Taiwan. The steep, weak mountains of Taiwan are amongst the most landslide prone environments on Earth. Typhoons in Taiwan deposit extraordinary amounts of rain. Typhoon Sinlaku was no exception – parts of Taichung County in central Taiwan recorded over 1600 mm of rainfall during the passage of the Typhoon – that is about double the annual rainfall of Durham.

Fig. 1: The passage of Typhoon Sinlaku (image from Tropical Storms Worldwide).

Unsurprisingly the typhoon has triggered extensive landslides; at the time of writing at least four landslide related fatalities have been recorded, and there is the possibility of more victims in a landslide event that buried a tunnel in the Central Mountains. Probably the most spectacular slope related event has however occurred as a result of extensive river bank erosion in the hot springs resort of Lushan in Nantou County (Fig. 2). In particular, the Kimei Hot Springs Hotel has had rather an unfortunate time.

Fig. 2: Google Earth image of Lushan

Before (Expedia):

After (Taipei Times):