Fri, Nov 03, 2017 - Page 3 News List

CWB’s typhoon day role debated

MAKING THE CALL:Lawmakers yesterday debated how much local government officials should rely on the Central Weather Bureau when deciding whether to have a typhoon day

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Minister of Transportation and Communications Hochen Tan, left, awaits his turn to speak during a meeting of the Legislative Yuan’s Transportation Committee in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Chien Jung-fong, Taipei Times

The Central Weather Bureau (CWB) should assist local government officials in deciding whether to declare a typhoon day, lawmakers attending a meeting of the legislature’s Transportation Committee yesterday said.

The bureau could make a recommendation as to the decision’s appropriateness, they added.

Local governments have the authority to declare a typhoon day after considering information provided by the weather bureau about a typhoon.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chen Ou-po (陳歐珀) said Premier William Lai (賴清德) gained the nickname “Laishen” (賴神) — or “Lai the divine” — when he was Tainan mayor in 2012 because he accurately predicted that Typhoon Tembin would bypass Tainan and chose not to declare a typhoon day, in contrast to other counties and cities at the time.

Chen said that since becoming premier, Lai has counseled lawmakers that data from the bureau should be the only information that local governments consult when deciding how best to respond to typhoon threats, whereas New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) believes that bureau information, though important, should not be the only reference consulted, adding that he wanted to know which statement the ministry was likely to agree with.

Letting local government officials declare a typhoon day is a risky move because such a decision should be made by professionals, Chen said.

If the weather bureau cannot make that call or help local governments make that call, officials can only let luck dictate what happens, he said.

DPP Legislator Lin Chun-hsien (林俊憲) said local governments are under tremendous pressure when they try to decide whether to declare a typhoon day, particularly when neighboring counties and cities have already done so.

Because local governments use the bureau’s information to decide about typhoon days, the weather bureau should make that decision instead, Lin said, adding that the bureau could propose the cities and counties where residents should take the day off.

Bureau Acting Director-General Yeh Tien-chiang (葉天降) said its estimates for rainfall and winds caused by typhoons are available for all local governments to use, but they can decide if calling a typhoon day is necessary based on the different conditions in each locality.

The bureau’s Weather Forecast Center director Lu Kuo-chen (呂國臣) said that each county is legally required to consider the bureau’s information before declaring a typhoon day, but that the information was not the only factor to consider.

Minister of Transportation and Communications Hochen Tan (賀陳旦) said the purpose of declaring a typhoon day should be to avoid damage or casualties, and to facilitate disaster relief efforts.

Local government officials can use the weather bureau’s information to determine the necessity of declaring a typhoon day before disasters strike, he said.

“However, discretion from local government officials is still needed, particularly in regard to minimizing secondary damage after disasters hit,” Hochen said.

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