The nation experienced its coldest day this winter yesterday, with the lowest temperature in the plains of Taiwan being recorded in Hsinchu, the Central Weather Bureau said.
Meanwhile, media reported that more than 70 people were suspected to have died suddenly on Monday and yesterday due to the low temperatures, based on reports from emergency rooms nationwide.
Statistics from the bureau showed that Hsinchu’s temperature slid to 6.9ºC at 7:47am yesterday, which was also the lowest daytime temperature in the plains of Taiwan proper yesterday. It was followed by Sun Moon Lake (日月潭), Nantou County, and Tamsui (淡水) in New Taipei City (新北市), where the mercury dropped to 7ºC and 7.1ºC respectively.
Snowfall was seen on Hohuanshan (合歡山), Taipingshan (太平山), Yushan (玉山) and several other mountains.
Wu Wan-hua (伍婉華), a senior specialist at the bureau’s weather forecast center, said that 10 of its weather observation stations yesterday recorded their lowest temperature this winter, including in Tamsui, Sinwu Township (新屋), Taoyuan County, New Taipei City’s Banciao District (板橋), Tainan, Kinmen and Matsu.
The bureau’s surface temperature chart showed that a majority of Taiwan proper was in blue, meaning that the temperature was below 11ºC. The phenomenon is rare, it added.
Cheng Ming-dean (鄭明典), director of the bureau’s weather forecast center, said that Japan, China and South Korea have been experiencing cold spells recently because of the north polar vortex, a large cyclone near the Earth’s geographical pole.
“The vortex has divided into two because of warm air coming from the Pacific Ocean, with one heading to North America and the other one heading to Siberia,” Cheng said.
Cheng said the polar vortex pushes cold air further south, resulting in blizzards in North America. The same phenomenon also occurs in Asia, he said, which explained why Tokyo had been hit by the largest snow storm in decades, as well as why considerable snowfall had also blanketed China and South Korea.
Cheng said that the cold weather caused by the polar vortex generally happens every two to three weeks.
“In Taiwan, warmer weather will emerge when the vortex weakens. The nation can expect a few weeks of warmer weather before the vortex moves south again,” he said.
The bureau’s forecast showed that temperatures would rebound today as the vortex gradually weakens, but the highest temperature would still only be about 14ºC to 15ºC.
Another strong cold air mass is scheduled to arrive on Friday and is expected to influence the nation until Sunday, the bureau said, adding that sunny skies are forecast to reappear on Monday next week.