Frigid temperatures kill 53 in Taiwan

“More possible deaths feared as mercury set to plunge further”

Before you read this, let me say that I find it very hard to believe that 10°C (50°F) weather would kill anyone. Be that as it may, the following was published on Taiwan News on January 31.

As temperatures plummeted to 10° to 12°C (50 to 53.6 F)  in all parts north of Tainan, 53 people lost their lives to the bitter cold yesterday. More lives are at risk as an intense cold surge is set to arrive on Saturday.

A major cold surge is set to strike Taiwan, causing the mercury in all points north of central Taiwan to drop down to 6 to 7 degrees (42.8 to 44.6F). During this period, Hehuanshan, Taipingshan, Lalashan, Qixingshan, and Datunshan are all likely to see snowfall.

Central to northern Taiwan will see the mercury plunge to 8 degrees, and open areas could see the temperature drop to as low as one to two degrees (33.8 to 35.6F).

Mountainous areas above 1,000 meters are likely to see snow, including Qixingshan and Datunshan from Saturday until Monday.

“The drop in temperatures can cause an increased likelihood of sudden death,” the article continues.

As I said, I find this very hard to believe.

However, the article proceeds to quote Taipei Medical University Director of Critical Care Medicine Kao Wei-feng, who said that 95 percent of sudden deaths brought on by cold weather are related to heart ailments. Cold temperatures increase the possibility of high blood pressure, myocardial infarction, and heart failure. Kao advised those at risk individuals experiencing unusual chest tightness, chest pain or upper abdominal pain to seek immediate medical attention.

See entire article:

Thanks to Glenn Cuthbert for this link



12 thoughts on “Frigid temperatures kill 53 in Taiwan”

  1. It is possible.

    In Los Angeles, I stayed in an apartment where the entire heating system was a 1 kW or so electric element built into one wall. It was rarely used. One whole outside wall was glass, single pane, with a sliding glass door.

    So if your location is not built for cold, and you get more than the systems can handle, and you don’t actually own any cold weather clothing; well, you get cold. Enough of that, marginal health folks will tend to die. Prolonged exposure at 50 F without a coat can cause hypothermia among compromised individuals.

    • My family moved from Massachusetts to Florida around the time I turned 18 (I left home shortly thereafter).

      My brother (who currently lives in NH) told me the winters in St Petersburg Beach where some of the coldest he’s ever felt. Entirely due to the combination of housing not built to handle it, cold winds in the early morning while they were waiting for the school bus in the dark, plus lack of winter clothing. In FLORIDA!

      So I think the saying that your “blood thins” so it’s harder to handle is part of the problem…

  2. Robert, if we look at the scientific literature, research suggests moderate cold kills the most, not extreme cold as one might think. Here are a couple links for an article published in The Lancet: Mortality risk attributable to high and low ambient temperature: a multicountry observational study
    “….lead author Dr Antonio Gasparrini from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine in the UK. [stated] “Our findings, from an analysis of the largest dataset of temperature-related deaths ever collected, show that the majority of these deaths actually happen on moderately hot and cold days, with most deaths caused by moderately cold temperatures.”

  3. I live in Hong Kong, where the climate is similar to Taiwan. We also had a prolonged period spanning the end of January and the beginning of February in which the temperatures here stayed down in the 40s and low 50s.

    50F doesn’t sound bad at all, but the problem is the lack of indoor heating. The first few days of a cold spell are okay, since indoor spaces retain their warmth for a while. But after four or five days, the temperature inside my apartment settled at about 53F. When you’re sitting around in that temperature day and night, you eventually feel really, really cold. I have no doubt this puts significant stress on the bodies of the old and infirm, especially since they may be stubborn/worried about electricity bills, and therefore refuse to use space heaters.

  4. Yeaugh that is a little odd that 50F would kill so many people. I suppose if you sleep outside with nothing on and no blanket, it’s possible the body could succumb to that eventually.

  5. One time I went to a tropical country the week before Christmas. Our plane left near-freezing temperatures at home, and we landed in temperatures in the mid-60’s at our destination. The young men who handled our luggage were wearing stocking caps. I asked one if he felt cold, and he said he did feel very cold.

    • I lived in San Diego for a time… people I worked with would wear winter coats inside the office when it was in the low 60s (F)… whining and complaining that they were “freezing”!

  6. Heck yea, that can be really cold if you’re not used to it. Sometimes I turn my heat down to 60F when I leave my place for a few days in the winter. When I come back it feels like it’s sub-zero in my house. I am going to get a Wi-Fi thermostat and control it with a phone app so I can get it warm by the time I get home. That will fix that problem!

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