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Taiwan could see earliest cold air mass in 40 years next week

Mercury could dip to 12 degrees in northern Taiwan by Nov. 11

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Person wearing heavy coat as continental cold air mass struck northern Taiwan on March 21. 

Person wearing heavy coat as continental cold air mass struck northern Taiwan on March 21.  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan could see the earliest cold air mass in 40 years by next week, according to Meteorologist Daniel Wu (吳德榮).

On Wednesday (Nov. 3), Wu predicted that a cold front headed towards the country could become a cold air mass by next week. He said that coupled with the influence of cloud cover and rain belts arriving from China, damp and cold weather will descend upon northern Taiwan.

"Friends in northern Taiwan must be mentally prepared," warned Wu.

He explained that next week, two waves of cold air will be the strongest since the beginning of autumn and could cause the mercury to plunge to 12 degrees Celsius. If the intensity level reaches that of a cold air mass, it will be the earliest such occurrence in nearly four decades.

Wu said the latest weather model shows that the strongest cold snap so far this season will arrive in two waves. The first will move south to north on Monday and Tuesday (Nov. 8-9), bringing cold and wet weather to Miaoli County and all areas north.

Flat areas in the north could see temperatures drop to about 14 degrees. Since a continental cold air mass is defined as temperatures in Taiwan below 14 degrees and because the Central Weather Bureau (CWB) is predicting that lows will not drop below 16 degrees, this does not meet the criteria for a continental cold air mass.

However, Wu forecast that a second wave of dry, cold air will move into the north by next Wednesday (Nov. 10), bringing clear skies but frigid temperatures. Starting from early Thursday morning (Nov. 11) and running through Friday (Nov. 12), the cold air combined with radiative cooling will cause the mercury to drop to 12 degrees in flat northern areas.

Wu said that there is a good chance the CWB will forecast a low of 14 degrees, pushing it toward the threshold of a continental cold air mass. However, Wu said that further observations and adjustments to predicted temperatures will be made in the coming days.

The last time Taiwan reported a continental cold air mass this early was on Nov. 11, 1982.