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Last Updated: Monday, 8 October 2007, 02:10 GMT 03:10 UK
Storm chaser tracks Typhoon Krosa
Stuart Robinson from Mountsorrel in Leicestershire is a storm chaser. As people flee hurricanes and tornados, he tracks them down. He has just returned from Taiwan where he went in pursuit of Typhoon Krosa. Here is his account of trying to find the eye of the storm.
Tracking Typhoon Krosa's progress from my office in England I saw that the forecast took it over Taiwan.

Stuart Robinson waits for the storm on the north east tip of Taiwan
The typhoon battered Taiwan with winds of 185km/h (115mph)
I realised this storm was chaseable and I had to be there. I contacted my American storm chase partner, Roger Hill from Denver, Colorado, and we made a plan to intercept Krosa.

This was the furthest I had ever travelled to see a storm. I do not speak Chinese and none of my US/UK-based weather forecasting tools would work in Taiwan.

This chase had to be managed by instinct and by reading the weather visually - this would test our storm chasing skills to the max.

Little protection

When we arrived in Taiwan the forecast track of the storm was across the north east tip of the island. Looking at the map there was nothing that would offer us protection - save for a few coastal fishing communities.

What struck me immediately was the lack of preparation. With a super-typhoon bearing down on the island in less than 24 hours' time, people were carrying on with life as normal.

Damage caused by Typhoon Krosa
Roads were deserted as Krosa started causing damage
If this was the Gulf of Mexico there would be mass evacuation and buildings would be boarded up to protect them against the winds. In Taiwan there was none of this.

We set off for the north-east - stopping only to stock up with water and food in case we got stuck.

When we reached the coast the winds were gale force and 20-foot waves were crashing onto the rocks, sending up huge towers of water.

Our plan was to find some shelter to protect us from the winds. Normally a multi storey car park would be ideal as they are made of steel and concrete but here on the tip of the island there were just fishing communities.

This was going to be a tough intercept.

Stuart Robinson feels the force of Krosa
Krosa's winds whipped up the seas

Chasing storms in the US we use high-speed internet in the car to look at radar and satellite images from space in order to understand the storm, but here we had nothing.

By early afternoon we experienced our first real typhoon strength wind - which rocked the car and showered us with soil and sand.

The roads were deserted and visibility was reduced to about 300 metres as the air filled with horizontal sheets of rain.

But the storm was not behaving itself. The winds were not changing direction and the pressure was not falling as quickly as it should - something was wrong.

It dawned on us that we were too far north - the storm had in fact changed direction and was heading south.

We decided to try and find the eye of the storm.

Dejected

Driving the car along that coastal road at the height of the typhoon was one of the most nerve-wracking moments I have ever experienced.

Damage caused by Typhoon Krosa
Despite the high winds, Taiwan had a lucky escape
The wind rocked the car and forward speed was only 20mph.

After a few miles we realised we would not make it into the eye. I pulled the car up behind a dirt embankment and got ready for what would be a harrowing few hours.

We were dejected - to come all this way and miss the eye by just a few miles was very hard to take.

The journey back was long and we had many questions. Where were the really intense winds? We recorded 104mph but it should have been 130mph plus.

Back in Taipei we traced the storm on the internet. What we saw shocked us both.

A car is crushed by a huge tree uprooted by Typhoon Krosa, in Taipei
In Taipei more than 200 trees were uprooted

Six hours before landfall Krosa was a 150mph super typhoon but as it approached land it turned south, back out to sea.

Krosa eventually made a complete loop over the sea before making landfall again in the very spot we initially parked in - but by this time it was significantly weakened.

The next day we drove back to the coast to see what conditions were like.

We were relieved to see that the small fishing communities were largely unscathed. Many trees were down but there was not much evidence of structural damage.

Taiwan dodged a bullet that day - if the typhoon had not made that last minute turn back out to sea and weakened then the island would have taken the full brunt of the storm and the damage would have been terrible.



SEE ALSO
Animated guide: Typhoon
25 Aug 05 |  Science/Nature
Powerful storm hits Chinese coast
07 Oct 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Powerful typhoon pummels Taiwan
06 Oct 07 |  Asia-Pacific



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