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United Daily News: Taiwan cannot afford to ignore snow disaster

United Daily News: Taiwan cannot afford to ignore snow disaster

The strongest cold wave in a decade that engulfed parts of the Northern Hemisphere in Asia and North America over the weekend caused major disruption to daily life and economic activity. Unlike in other areas hit by the storm, people in subtropical Taiwan were excited at getting a rare glimpse of falling snow, revealing an alarming lack of awareness of severe weather threats. The cold wave, the most intense one to hit Taiwan in 10 years, not only took a heavy toll on the aquaculture and agricultural sectors, it also cost many people their lives. Scientists reported last week that 2015 was the warmest year in more than a century due to a combination of a strong El Ni隳 and human-induced global warming, continuing the trend toward more extreme weather. Extreme weather conditions not only cause climate anomalies or sea level rises but can lead to inaccurate short-range weather forecasts because of the existence of more unpredictable factors. Simply put, even if sensors on weather satellites can detect short-term weather changes, the general public might not have enough time to prevent or respond promptly to a bad weather event. Another problem is that the Central Weather Bureau (CWB) is the only agency authorized to forecast and issue warnings for severe weather, but it did not clamp down on or correct some of the wildly inaccurate weather information that cropped up on the Internet. Such unfiltered information can mislead agricultural and fish farmers and life-support system operators and cause misjudgments. In addition, the government was too slow in preparing for the emergency and responding to the freezing cold weather. In fact, the CWB had issued warnings of low temperatures about one week before the cold spell arrived, but the central and local governments only took steps to battle the extreme cold after the mercury plummeted dramatically. Blizzards have caused more than US$100 million in damage in North America, and the strong cold spell has caused millions of dollars in agricultural losses in Taiwan. Yet people in Taiwan let down their guard and decided to enjoy the snow. With the weather becoming more unpredictable in the future, different sectors must seek out ways to be better prepared in the future. (By Evelyn Kao)


Updated : 2021-10-19 11:44 GMT+08:00