First winter snow falls on mountains across Taiwan

01/08/2021 02:27 PM
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Taipingshan in Yilan County. CNA photo Jan. 8, 2021
Taipingshan in Yilan County. CNA photo Jan. 8, 2021

Update: Tourists flock to Taipingshan to see snow, causing traffic congestion

Taipei, Jan. 8 (CNA) Several mountains in northern and central Taiwan saw their first snow of the winter Friday amid a cold wave that has impacted the country since the previous day, according to the Central Weather Bureau (CWB).

Lalashan in northern Taoyuan City, which ranges from 1,500-2,130 meters in altitude, had its first snowfall of the season at around 6 a.m., the city's tourism office said.

The Lalashan Forest Reserve, home to over 120 Formosan cypresses trees estimated to be more than 500 years old, was also covered with snow.

Lalashan in Taoyuan
Lalashan in Taoyuan. Photo courtesy of the Toayuan City Department of Tourism
Lalashan in Taoyuan. Photo courtesy of the Toayuan City Department of Tourism

At the same time, snow started falling on the 3,416 meter Hehuanshan, on the border of Nantou and Hualien counties in central Taiwan at 4-5 a.m., attracting large crowds keen to enjoy the winter scene, the CWB said.

Nearby landmarks such as Songxue Resort at an altitude of 3,150 meters and Xiaofengko at 3,002 meters were also covered with snow, it said.

An police officer directs traffic on Hehuanshan. Photo courtesy of the Sin Chen Police Precinct, Hualien County
An police officer directs traffic on Hehuanshan. Photo courtesy of the Sin Chen Police Precinct, Hualien County
Taipingshan in Yilan County. CNA photo Jan. 8, 2021
Taipingshan in Yilan County. CNA photo Jan. 8, 2021

The previous night, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications' (MOTC) Directorate General of Highways closed the 14 Jia Provincial Highway, resulting in a long line of cars waiting at Tsuifeng checkpoint to view the snow since the early hours of Friday.

According to the weather observatory station on the mountain's peak, temperatures in the Hehuanshan area will be around minus 0.1 degrees to minus 1.2 degrees for the rest of the day, with 2 cm of snow having fallen.

Snow also fell on the 1,120 meter-high Yangmingshan in the capital Taipei after 6 a.m.. police said.

Yangmingshan in New Taipei. CNA photo Jan. 8, 2021
Yangmingshan in New Taipei. CNA photo Jan. 8, 2021
Yangmingshan in New Taipei. CNA photo Jan. 8, 2021
Yangmingshan in New Taipei. CNA photo Jan. 8, 2021

Traffic controls were put in place along the Yangjin Highway and Balaka Road, banning vehicles not equipped with snow chains from entering the popular northern Taiwan tourist spot.

According to the CWB, the snow on Yangmingshan has already begun to melt.

Meanwhile, more than 3 centimeters of snow fell on the 1,900m Taipingshan in Yilan County, northeastern Taiwan on Thursday night and Friday morning, amid the drop in temperature.

Taipingshan in Yilan County. CNA photo Jan. 8, 2021
Taipingshan in Yilan County. CNA photo Jan. 8, 2021
Taipingshan in Yilan County. CNA photo Jan. 8, 2021
Taipingshan in Yilan County. CNA photo Jan. 8, 2021

Cars started arriving outside the main gate to Taipingshan National Forest Recreation Area at 8 p.m. the previous evening, in a bid to be first to see the snow after the area opened at 6:40 a.m.

As a result, there was a 6 km tailback of cars in the area at around 8 a.m.

Tourists who entered the park early built snowmen and enjoyed the snow-covered landscape.

Taipingshan in Yilan County. CNA photo Jan. 8, 2021
Taipingshan in Yilan County. CNA photo Jan. 8, 2021
Taipingshan in Yilan County. CNA photo Jan. 8, 2021
Taipingshan in Yilan County. CNA photo Jan. 8, 2021

However, traffic controls were imposed at noon, forbidding visitors from going to higher peaks in the area, said Luodong Forest District Office, which manages the national forest recreation area.

Snow also fell at about 11 p.m. Thursday in the indigenous Jianshih Village in Hsinchu County.

With the arrival of the cold wave, temperatures below 10 degrees are possible around Taiwan until Saturday, with cold advisories issued for cities and counties nationwide, the CWB said.

Taipingshan in Yilan County
Photo courtesy of Luodong Forest District Office.
Photo courtesy of Luodong Forest District Office.

In addition, rain is forecast in the greater Taipei area, Keelung City and coastal areas of northern Taiwan in the first half of Friday, it said.

Meanwhile, this winter's lowest temperature in a low-lying area on Taiwan Proper was registered at 4.7 degrees in New Taipei's Wugu District Friday morning, according to CWB data.

(By Flor Wang and Yu Hsia-han)

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