Five years ago, in January 2016, a cold wave hit Asia, covering many countries including Taiwan. Taipei’s lattitude is 25°N, and Key West Florida is 24.5°N. Temperatures were as low as 3°C with snow outside the usual areas (above 2000m).
A cold snap sweeping across East Asia has killed at least 85 people in Taiwan and stranded 60,000 tourists in South Korea.
Taiwanese media reported deaths from hypothermia and cardiac disease following a sudden drop in temperature over the weekend.
Meanwhile heavy snow forced the closure of the airport on the Korean holiday island of Jeju, cancelling flights.
The cold spell has also hit Hong Kong, southern China and Japan.
Unfortunately, a new and harsher cold wave was predicted for this week, with temperatures as low as 0°C in some places. This is not normal weather for a subtropical climate.
The apparent temperature could drop to 0 degrees Celsius in New Taipei City tonight (Jan. 7) and -1 in Hsinchu on Friday (Jan. 8) with the arrival of a cold wave.
The Central Weather Bureau (CWB) said that as a cold wave plunges south into Taiwan today, northern parts of the country will begin to cool down in the morning, and other areas will become colder in the afternoon. The temperatures are anticipated to be coldest on Friday and Saturday (Jan. 8-9), with lows in central Taiwan and all areas north ranging from 6 to 8 degrees and between 10 and 12 degrees in the rest of the country.
The CWB predicts that the apparent temperature in New Taipei City’s Shimen District will plunge to 0 degrees tonight, while the apparent temperature in Hsinchu County’s Xinfeng Township could plummet to -1 degrees on Friday. Temperatures could be even colder in open coastal areas or plains near mountainous areas.
For waiguoren like myself used to -10°C to -40°C winters, this is no big deal. But to the Taiwanese who have never lived anywhere else, it’s a disaster. Homes here aren’t insulated, they’re built to survive earthquakes and typhoons.
Eighteen people have died since Wednesday, and the Central Weather Bureau predicts the cold wave could last through Saturday, maybe Sunday, so there could be many more. Just like 2016, most of those hurt or killed by the cold were elderly or poor.
Eighteen people died suddenly across Taiwan in 17 hours between late Thursday and early Friday amid a cold wave that has sent temperatures plunging below 10 degrees Celsius, according to local authorities.
In the capital Taipei, seven people were rushed to hospital emergency rooms between 7 p.m. Thursday and noon Friday. None of them showed vital signs upon arrival, and five of them eventually died, the city authorities said.
All seven, who average 80 years of age, fell down at their homes, but city officials said further investigation will be needed to see if their falls and eventual deaths were triggered by the cold wave.
[. . .]
With the cold wave forecast to last into Saturday, the Central Weather Bureau (CWB) said it has issued a cold advisory for all of Taiwan’s 22 cities and counties.
Strangely, the number who died thus far is exactly the number killed by COVID-19, the flu, and dengue fever combined. But I doubt that’s a comfort to their families.
This is Japanese, not Mandarin, but I understand the sentiment. I hate removing my quilt in the morning:
打首獄門同好会 (Uchikubi Gokumon Doukoukai) – I don’ t wanna get out of futon