2021-01-07 08:21:01

Northern China’s first cold spell of 2021 has come on strong, with temperatures in Beijing dropping to their lowest levels in more than half a century.

Sweeping into the capital on Wednesday, the cold front brought the mercury down to minus 19 degrees Celsius, with reports saying it felt like minus 31 degrees Celsius once the wind chill was factored in.

According to the Beijing Meteorological Station, such frigid conditions have not been seen since 1966, when the city’s temperature plummeted to 27.4 degrees below zero.

“The wind feels like knives,” said Beijing resident Zhou Ruoqi. She told Sixth Tone this is her first winter in the capital since she moved there for work four months ago, and she has been wearing up to eight articles of clothing to insulate herself from the cold.

The chilly weather has apparently impacted requests for on-demand app-based services. Food delivery and car hailing have both become difficult to order, Zhou said, adding that she plans to stock up on groceries.

“I ordered some food on Wednesday night at 7, and it got delivered to me at 1 in the morning,” Zhou said. “A staff member at the supermarket said they were flooded with orders because of the weather.”

Winter isn’t coming for Beijing only. The National Meteorological Center on Tuesday issued alerts as most parts of northern and southern China forecast drops of around 10 degrees Celsius.

The frigid weather has led to a rise in demand for electricity, especially for heating purposes. As an emergency measure to ensure that households and businesses stay warm, Beijing has fired up its only remaining coal power plant for the first time since 2017.

Editor: Kevin Schoenmakers.

(Header image: A man walks on a chilly winter day in Beijing, Jan. 6, 2021. IC)