Beijing sees third-longest winter stretch without snowfall

Snow has not fallen in Beijing for 92 days, the third-longest seasonal dry stretch, and residents say strange weather makes them ill

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 January, 2014, 4:25pm
UPDATED : Friday, 24 January, 2014, 2:42am

While the winds and blizzards of North America's polar vortex closed airports and roads across the continent - making some cities temporarily colder than the South Pole - Beijing has been experiencing one of its most snow-free winters.

Yesterday marked the 92nd straight day without snow in the capital, making it the third-longest winter dry spell since records began. Due to a lack of water vapour in the atmosphere, Beijing's first snow this winter would arrive much later than usual - if at all - state media quoted meteorologists as saying.

Beijing's longest stretch without snow - 124 days - lasted from October 25, 1970, to February 25. The second longest was 108 days, from October 25, 2010, to February 9. This winter ties with 1998-99 as the third longest without snow, Chen Dagang, a senior engineer at the Beijing Climate Centre, told the People's Daily website.

Sun Jun , the chief weather forecaster at CCTV, said there had been very little water vapour circulating over the capital this winter.

Dry air flowing from the south and east had lowered humidity even further, leaving the atmosphere with almost no moisture to form snow crystals.

Forecasters do not predict snow to fall in Beijing before the Lunar New Year next Friday.

Most of northwestern China has experienced unseasonably warm temperatures lately. Experts have warned that this, combined with the dry weather and lack of snow, creates ideal conditions for respiratory diseases to develop, such as colds or the flu, the report said.

The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in Beijing said the number of flu cases rose by 126 per cent in the third week of January.

However, some Beijingers fear that the rising occurrences of sickness were caused by the choking air pollution that seems especially bad this year.

"The erratic weather is making me sick," said accountant Judith Xu. "In fact, most people I know have caught colds this winter."

Beijing resident Yao Yi suspected the lack of snow was an unintended consequence of the government's efforts to tackle pollution.

"It's strange, they must be tackling pollution, like they before the 2008 Olympics," he said. "But somehow it's affecting the weather instead."