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    Winter Is Here: Temperatures Approach Record Lows in Northern China

    Sharp temperature drops are being seen around the country this week.
    Dec 14, 2023#environment

    Residents in northern China are experiencing blizzards and plummeting temperatures as a cold wave is expected to break historical records for low temperatures in December.

    Heavy snowfall hit parts of Beijing and provinces such as Jilin and Shandong on Thursday, with snow depth reaching over 15 centimeters in some places, according to the China Meteorological Administration.

    Most parts of northern China saw temperatures plummet between six and 12 degrees Celsius on Thursday from the day before, with temperatures expected to fall to lows of minus 44 degrees Celsius in parts of Heilongjiang province and the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region between Thursday and Sunday.

    Temperatures in some parts are expected to break historical records for this time of the year, forecasters warned Thursday. On Tuesday, the China Meteorological Administration issued a yellow alert for freezing temperatures for the first time in 10 years.

    China’s lowest ever recorded temperature is minus 53 degrees Celsius, recorded in Mohe, Heilongjiang province, in January 2023.

    Fu Jiaolan, the chief forecaster at the National Meteorological Center, said the latest cold wave is distinctive due to the large area it covers, its long duration, extreme temperature drops, and combination of rain and snow.

    Beijing, which had its first snowfall of the year on Monday, is expected to see heavy snowfall continue until Friday morning. Residents are being encouraged to reduce travel, as trains and flights have been canceled

    Major mountainous scenic spots in Beijing have been closed since Wednesday. Primary and secondary schools, kindergartens, and secondary vocational schools are operating online classes until further notice.

    Schools in other provinces including Hebei and Henan have also suspended in-person classes.

    The severe temperature drops have prompted state-owned energy firms to “operate at full capacity” to meet heating needs in northern China, where coal plays a key role.

    The National Development and Reform Commission said in November that China’s coal reserves exceed 200 million tons and can last 33 days, the highest level in history.

    The cold wave is expected to move south in the next two days, with temperature falls of between 8 degrees Celsius and 12 degrees Celsius in some parts.

    Shanghai is set to see temperatures as low as minus 2 degrees Celsius on Sunday after seeing highs of 22 degrees Celsius on Thursday.  

    Hangzhou authorities announced Wednesday that the city will officially enter the winter season on Saturday, the latest onset of winter for the city since records began in 1951.

    Editor: Vincent Chow.

    (Header image: A worker clears snow from a street after a snow storm in Beijing, Dec. 11, 2023. IC)