|Plum Rains 2011|
Eastern Asia, Taiwan, Japan, eastern China, Korea and Vietnam all have two monsoon periods each year. It is actually, according to some websites, one monsoon period broken into two sections: The Winter Monsoon and the Plum Rains.
The Winter Monsoon usually starts in Late December or Early January and continues until March. Because of the Winter Monsoon, Chinese New Year in Taiwan is usually cold and wet. It is amazingly cold. I’m always surprised that it gets as cold as it does during the winter. Considering that Taipei is on the same latitude with the tip of Florida, you would expect temperatures to be similar to Southern Florida’s temperatures, but in fact, the temperature can get to between 6C and 9C (43F and 48F). When you couple that with high humidity you come out with bone chillingly cold weather. Add to that the fact that homes in Taiwan are concrete with tile floors and no furnaces, you have the makings of a cold winter. Fortunately winter here lasts only about six to eight weeks.
The Plum Rains start in May and usually last through June, although the periods of heavy rainfall continue until September. The Plum Rains are created through a stationary front that hangs over Japan, Taiwan, Eastern China and South Korea. It lasts until the sub-tropical ridge becomes strong enough to push this front to the north. That’s meteorologist speak for the weather is rainy until it isn’t. This year the Plum Rains started a little late closer to late June and continue to this day. (I’m writing this on August 13, 2011).
The Plum Rains bring quite a bit more rainfall than the Winter Monsoons as you can see from this average rainfall chart:
December 77mm – 3.0” June 322mm – 12.7”
January 91mm – 3.6” July 269mm – 10.6”
February 146mm – 5.8” August 266mm – 10.5”
I think it is interesting that the average rainfall for June is a little higher than the average annual rainfall in the area where I lived in Southern California. There was one day this last June where we received 200mm (7.9”) in a twelve-hour period; more than half of the monthly average in twelve hours. That’s a lot of rain; a lot of rain.
|The paths of typhoons in 2010, Taiwan is right in the middle of it.|
Just before I moved to Taiwan in September 2009, a typhoon called Typhoon Morakot, which landed on the island on August 8, 2009 devastated Southern Taiwan. It caused landslides and flooding, costing billions of dollars. The Binlang (Betel Nut) industry was hit very hard as Betel Nut trees, which have a shallow root system and grow on the sides of mountains, were unable to hold back mudslides. One small town, was completely buried, killing 439 people. The government received a lot of criticism for poor response and rescue operations.
|Typhoon Fanapi 2010 - Each circle represents 70% probability of direction|
One thing you can’t say about Taiwan is that the weather’s boring. It seems meteorologically something is happening here all the time. Whether it’s monsoons or typhoons or just plain raining. Somebody gets wet almost every day.
|Satellite Photo of Typhoon fanapi on Central Weather Bureau site.|
Thanks to our companion blog Glimpses of Taiwan for the Typhoon Rain video.
Other Posts you may be interested in:
Here It Comes: Typhoon Conson
Typhoon Conson: How Did We Cope?