Cold waves hit many parts of China; Beijing sees 30-year low

Icy blast is expected to cause temperatures to plunge across the country, with Beijing in grip of its coldest weather for nearly 30 years

PUBLISHED : Monday, 24 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 24 December, 2012, 8:16am

Parts of the country were braced for record low temperatures today after a cold snap left 10 provincial capitals shivering at below minus 10 degrees Celsius.

Temperatures in Beijing plunged to between minus 15 and minus 20 degrees yesterday, the coldest in almost 30 years, forecasters said.

The freeze brought snowfall and caused traffic chaos, amid fears that a prolonged icy spell may mean rising food prices.

The National Meteorological Office (NMO) said many areas had experienced their lowest temperatures so far this winter, including parts of Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia, Shandong, Yunnan, Guizhou, Hubei, Hunan, Fujian, Guangdong and Hainan.

The NMO lifted its "blue" warning of a severe spell of freezing weather issued on Saturday.

But it warned that while the cold snap is easing, temperatures would continue to fall in central and eastern regions, with some experiencing record low temperatures today.

In Beijing's mountainous northern suburbs, temperatures were expected to plunge to near minus 20 degrees last night, the Beijing Meteorological Observatory said. In urban areas, the temperature was expected to drop to minus 15 or minus 16 degrees.

Chen Dagang, a senior forecaster at the observatory, said the capital's lowest temperature in recent decades was minus 15.2 degrees, recorded in 1985. Temperatures fell by between seven and nine degrees in Shanghai and by six to eight degrees in many parts of the country. Some northern and northeastern regions witnessed drops of between 10 and 14 degrees.

The lowest temperature - of minus 49 degrees - was reported in a remote county in Xinjiang, where severe traffic congestion was caused.

In Jilin, temperatures plummeted to as low as minus 38 degrees, prompting overburdened medical authorities to call for assistance. In the northeastern provincial capital cities of Harbin and Changchun, temperatures dropped to minus 30 degrees. Also shivering yesterday on minus 29 degrees was the capital of Xinjiang province, Urumqi.

In Shenyang , the capital of Liaoning, the temperature fell to between minus 15 and minus 18 degrees. In the northern city of Tianjin, temperatures were between minus 5 and minus 10 degrees.

In nearby Jinan, the capital of Shandong, temperatures were between minus 4 and minus 10 degrees.

The cold weather has seen prices of food including pork rise, according to official data.

Pork prices were up 5.2 per cent on Saturday from November 20, which triggered fear of price hikes during upcoming festivals, including the Lunar New Year.

The meteorological alerts are categorised as blue, yellow, orange and red in ascending order of severity.