Typhoon warning based on old data: report

The China Post news staff

An earlier report by the Water Resources Agency (WRA) warning about powerful typhoons possibly hitting Taiwan in the fall was based on outdated data, according to the Chinese-language Liberty Times.

“There is a high probability that typhoons generated close to Taiwan will get here, all being a type of the sudden and powerful autumn typhoon,” stated in the article published by the WRA on Feb. 18.

The article stated that this year’s weather will be influenced by the La Nina phenomenon (extensive changes occurring in the sea surface temperature of the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean), which could trigger several autumn typhoons this year. After the typhoon is formed, it could hit Taiwan in a short period of two or three days, resulting in great difficulties in preventing disasters, the agency added.

Meteorologists, however, noticed that the information used by the WRA was actually describing the conditions from last year, the newspaper pointed out. The chief of the Central Weather Bureau, Hsin Zai-chin was surprised when he heard the WRA report at the Executive Yuan. Hsin said that “accurate analysis about the typhoon season can only be made after May or June of this year.” He added that “disaster prevention is admittedly desirable, but early predictions could create counter-effects.”

The WRA is not only suspected of violating the meteorology law, but the false report might also have brought about unnecessary confusions in typhoon preparations, the Liberty Times reported. According to the article XVIII of meteorology law, agencies, schools, organizations and individuals licensed by the CWB are permitted to release information on climate or marine forecast, but are not allowed to announce news on alerts and any predictions of disastrous weather conditions. The head of the Weather Forecast Center Zheng Ming-dian said that last year’s La Nina phenomenon will weaken or entirely disappear this year. Typhoons may be more frequent, but arrive earlier and less will possibly hit Taiwan. Therefore, the typhoon season may be completely different from the one last year and must be followed by different response measures.

The WRA confirmed that they released improper news, affecting disaster prevention preparation. WRA Deputy Director Wu Yue-hsi said that the information was based on observations provided by NASA as well as on the serious floods in the Southern hemisphere. Wu said the agency was informing the president on water disaster prevention and its report did not involve professional meteorological forecasts.