If you think you haven’t seen the sun for a long time, you are not alone.
According to the Central Weather Bureau, there were more rainy days than sunny days between Nov. 1 and Dec. 21 and 14 locations have “set the record for the least sunshine hours in the same period.”
These locations encompass most of the cities and counties in western Taiwan, as well as Taitung, Orchid Island (蘭嶼) and Tungchi Islet (東吉島) in Penghu.
Over the past two months, hours of sunshine in Taipei, Keelung, Suao (蘇澳) and Hualien have been the second-lowest in history.
During the 51-day period, the number of sunshine hours in Tamsui (淡水), New Taipei City (新北市), and Orchid Island was only 95.2 and 52.4 hours respectively.
Calculated by 11 hours in the daytime in winter, that translated to less than nine and five sunshine days respectively.
It doesn’t usually rain in winter in central and southern Taiwan, but Wuchi (梧棲) in Taichung and Chiayi in southern Taiwan reported 14 days and 15 days of rain respectively during the past two months.
Cheng Ming-dean (鄭明典), director of the bureau’s Weather Forecast Center, said that this year was a “very atypical La Nina year,” noting that southern California should have been warm and dry, but it has reported floods.
Cold and rainy weather have affected the moods of many and hospitals have reported that the number of people complaining about depression has increased by 20 percent. The number of people suffering from eczema and asthma has also increased sharply.
“Sunshine, temperature and humidity all affect one’s moods,” said Fang Chun-kai (方俊凱), director of the Department of Psychiatry at Mackay Memorial Hospital.
He suggested turning on a light during cloudy days and maintaining a set indoor temperature or turning on the dehumidifier.
Ho Yi-chen (何一成), deputy director of ReShining Clinic, said that one could also eat more fish, egg yolk, mushroom and dairy products and take vitamin D and folic acid as well as exercise more to fight against weather-related depression.
If the incessant rainy days have put a damper on your mood, several local writers have offered their suggestions.
Writer Su Kuo-chi (舒國治) said: “You can always put aside the unpleasant things by chatting with friends at a tea house or taking a hot bath after returning home.”
Writer Tom Wang (王文華) said: “Rain actually makes many places more beautiful; don’t get blue because it rains, find the joy in rainy days.”
He said walking on Fuchin street or strolling in Da-an Forest Park on rainy days is actually very relaxing.
Writer Tao Li-jun (陶禮君) suggested a slowdown from the usual hectic pace of life and dinners with friends to find the “little joys in life.”
However, for residents of Orchid Island, less sunshine has made them worry.
The residents dry the flying fish they catch in the summer, but they also dry fish in winter.
Drying fish during the winter has many benefits, local people said, noting that thanks to the monsoon, there are fewer flies, mosquitoes or bugs hovering around the fish, making them safer to eat.
Cheng said that farmers have complained that “no matter how hard they try, they can’t grow vegetables well this year” — a major reason for the soaring price of vegetables this winter.
Cheng said that after the middle of this month, southern Taiwan started to see more sunshine, but northern Taiwan is still cloudy.