NANFANGAO, TAIWAN (REUTERS) - Taiwan downgraded Typhoon Chanthu to a medium typhoon on Saturday (Sept 11), saying that while it would bring heavy rain and gusting winds to most of the island, it was unlikely to make direct landfall.
Taiwan's Central Weather Bureau said the storm, which was at one point categorised a super typhoon, was losing strength as it headed up the Bashi Channel that separates Taiwan from the Philippines.
It forecast that Chanthu would skirt Taiwan's sparsely populated and mountainous east coast on Saturday night and into Sunday morning, then head towards China's Zhejiang province and Shanghai.
Taiwanese airlines cancelled their Saturday afternoon domestic flights, though there was only limited impact on international services.
The typhoon is unlikely to affect Taiwan's globally important semiconductor factories on its west coast, plants busy ramping up output to alleviate a global shortage of chips that has hit car makers especially hard.
Still, the government has ordered disaster preparations in case of landslides or flooding. At the northeast coast port of Nanfangao, fishing boats crowded into the harbour to escape the coming storm.
In 2009, Typhoon Morakot killed around 700 people in Taiwan, the deadliest storm to ever hit the island.
Subtropical Taiwan relies on the typhoon season to replenish its reservoirs, but after none hit the island last year, water levels dropped drastically, leading to Taiwan's worst drought in history and widespread water restrictions. The drought ended after heavy rainfall in the late spring and early summer.