Under the Weather: El Niño vs. Northeast Monsoon

The northeast monsoon has brought heavy rain to Taiwan, causing flight and shipping delays, landslides, and slippery road conditions. Flights from Taipei Taoyuan Airport this morning were delayed an average 40 minutes due to foggy conditions. Similar conditions are being experienced in Hong Kong, Southern China, and Macau.

Planes at Taipei Taoyuan Airport are shown grounded due to bad weather March 19, 2016
Flights at Taipei Taoyuan Airport were delayed today due to poor visibility. Photo: United Daily News.

Around this time every year, cold fronts forming over Siberia reach Taiwan and interact with the moist Pacific air-mass, and the rain falls by the bucket-load. This year, due to the El Niño effect, ocean temperatures in the northern Pacific are on the warmer side. The first thunderstorm of the season rumbled over Taipei last Sunday, March 13, bringing drenching rain, and it has been raining most of the time for the last week. Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau predicts the same rainy weather pattern should continue for the next week.

A rock-slide on a country road in Taiwan due to heavy rain
A rockslide in Hsinchu County, Taiwan, March 19, 2016. Photo: United Daily News

Keelung Harbor today is closed, and at least two container ships have been prevented from entering the port due to poor visibility.

A foggy Keelung Harbor
Fog envelops Keelung(Jilong) Harbor in northern Taiwan March 19, 2016. Preventing ships from entering the port due to poor visibility. Photo: United Daily News
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