Factors Leading to Heavy Rainfall in Southern Taiwan in the Early Mei-Yu Season of 2020

Fang-Ching Chien aDepartment of Earth Sciences, National Taiwan Normal University, Taipei, Taiwan

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Yen-Chao Chiu aDepartment of Earth Sciences, National Taiwan Normal University, Taipei, Taiwan

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Abstract

This paper examines the meteorological factors that led to the record-breaking heavy precipitation event in Taiwan in the early 2020 mei-yu season (15–31 May). The extreme amount of rainfall (an average of 135.9 mm per station) during the 36-h period around 22 May (hereafter Y20R) also set a record. Compared to climatology, the Pacific subtropical high was stronger and the southwesterly monsoonal flow was more intense during the first half of the 2020 mei-yu season, resulting in a stronger moisture conveyor belt over the northern Indo-China Peninsula. The record-breaking precipitation in Y20R was mainly caused by the eastward movement of a southwest vortex (SWV) generated in southwestern China. When the eastern portion of the SWV touched northern Taiwan, its associated west-southwesterly winds and the large-scale southwesterly monsoonal flow transported moisture toward the Taiwan Strait. The moisture-laden southwesterly flow was lifted by the stationary mei-yu front, leading to the heavy rainfall in southern Taiwan. When the SWV passed through northern Taiwan, it became the dominant weather system that enhanced the west-southwesterly winds and transported moisture from South China to Taiwan. The front moved southward through the Taiwan Strait during this period, with its location greatly determining the pattern of rainfall in southern Taiwan. In summary, the most critical factors leading to heavy rainfall in southern Taiwan are the strong 850-hPa southwesterly winds and moisture fluxes associated with the SWV. The other key factors include, in order of sensitivity to rainfall, the distance of the front, the distance of the SWV, the frontal speed, and the intensity of the SWV.

© 2023 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Fang-Ching Chien, jfj@ntnu.edu.tw

Abstract

This paper examines the meteorological factors that led to the record-breaking heavy precipitation event in Taiwan in the early 2020 mei-yu season (15–31 May). The extreme amount of rainfall (an average of 135.9 mm per station) during the 36-h period around 22 May (hereafter Y20R) also set a record. Compared to climatology, the Pacific subtropical high was stronger and the southwesterly monsoonal flow was more intense during the first half of the 2020 mei-yu season, resulting in a stronger moisture conveyor belt over the northern Indo-China Peninsula. The record-breaking precipitation in Y20R was mainly caused by the eastward movement of a southwest vortex (SWV) generated in southwestern China. When the eastern portion of the SWV touched northern Taiwan, its associated west-southwesterly winds and the large-scale southwesterly monsoonal flow transported moisture toward the Taiwan Strait. The moisture-laden southwesterly flow was lifted by the stationary mei-yu front, leading to the heavy rainfall in southern Taiwan. When the SWV passed through northern Taiwan, it became the dominant weather system that enhanced the west-southwesterly winds and transported moisture from South China to Taiwan. The front moved southward through the Taiwan Strait during this period, with its location greatly determining the pattern of rainfall in southern Taiwan. In summary, the most critical factors leading to heavy rainfall in southern Taiwan are the strong 850-hPa southwesterly winds and moisture fluxes associated with the SWV. The other key factors include, in order of sensitivity to rainfall, the distance of the front, the distance of the SWV, the frontal speed, and the intensity of the SWV.

© 2023 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Fang-Ching Chien, jfj@ntnu.edu.tw
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