Residents of 368 townships nationwide will be able to receive specific weather reports for their localities when the Central Weather Bureau (CWB) launches the service next month.
In the past, the weather forecast generally covered a large area that included a city or a county. However, two districts within the same city could have completely different weather conditions because of geographical differences or other factors.
The deputy director of the bureau’s forecast center, Lu Kuo-chen (呂國臣), said the bureau started developing the small-region forecast system in 2008. It first tested the system at the Taipei International Flora Expo this year.
It has also conducted tests in 128 townships in Chiayi County, Greater Tainan, Greater Kaohsiung and Pintung County since October.
“Our results in the past three months showed that our temperature forecast had a margin of error of 1oC on the plains and 1oC to 2oC in mountainous areas,” Lu said. “We can forecast more accurately where rainfall will occur. Instead of saying that there will be rain in the mountains, we can now say it will rain in front of or behind the mountains.”
Lu added that the refined forecast service would more accurately reflect differing weather in the mountains, wilderness and coastal zones.
CWB Director-General Shin Tsay-chin (辛在勤) said the forecast would be updated every three hours, adding that more observation centers nationwide would be equipped with facilities to make weather forecasts in smaller regions.
Shin said the system would use township offices and areas nearby as points of reference in their forecasts.
“If necessary, we could consider increasing the observation points after careful evaluation,” Shin added.
He emphasized that the new service would not include forecasts for severe weather, which would be predicted based on large administrative regions.
In other news, the bureau said that residents living near Kenting in Pintung County and Sansiantai (三仙台) in Taitung County would be first people in Taiwan proper to greet the first sunrise of the new year, with the sun rising at 6:35am in both locations.
The earliest sunrise on the nation’s outlying islands will be on Orchid Island (蘭嶼), also known as Lanyu, at 6:33am. It will be followed by Green Island (綠島), where the sun is scheduled to rise at 6:34am.
The earliest sunrise in Northern Taiwan, however, will be at 6:35am in Sandiaojiao (三貂角) in New Taipei City on the northeast coast.
Those interested in seeing the sunset on the last day of this year and the sunrise on the first day of next year on Yushan, the nation’s tallest mountain, can watch a live broadcast on the CWB Web site.