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Second cold wave envelops Beijing, China in snow, ice

Mon 18 Dec 2023    
| 2 min read

Northern China is currently experiencing a severe cold wave spell characterized by snow, blizzards, and plummeting temperatures, marking one of the most intense December cold snaps in the region. As a response, authorities in the capital have taken various measures, including suspending train services, closing schools, and urging people to stay indoors.

A cold air mass, the second this week, has swept into Beijing from the west, prompting city officials to issue the second-highest blizzard alert in the country, effective until Thursday. To mitigate potential chaos caused by prolonged snowfall, the city, with a population of nearly 22 million, has closed all schools and transitioned to online classes. Additionally, businesses have been advised to provide flexible work arrangements, and commuting has been staggered.

Concerned about the challenging weather conditions, a Beijing resident named Liu expressed a reluctance to travel, citing the cold and hazardous road conditions. Scenic areas in the mountainous regions of the north and west have been temporarily closed.

Certain railway services connecting key cities like Shanghai, Hangzhou, and Wuhan have been temporarily suspended, leading to delays for those still operational. Despite the disruptions, Beijing’s Capital Airport remains in operation.

The forecast predicts extremely low temperatures in Beijing, potentially reaching minus 18 degrees Celsius over the weekend, a significant drop from the mid-December average of around minus 8 degrees Celsius. Even the southern city of Shanghai, currently experiencing mild weather at 20 degrees Celsius, is expected to face frigid temperatures as low as minus 4 degrees Celsius on Saturday and Sunday.

Authorities have mobilized over 6,000 rescuers for emergency road assistance, with more than 5,800 sets of snow-removal equipment and machinery on standby. Approximately 32,000 metric tons of snow-thawing agents have been prepared for use on icy roads and motorways.

In response to the challenging weather conditions, city officials have enlisted volunteers to clear snow and ice, in addition to the 73,000 people assigned to these tasks. They have also ordered an increase in indoor heating.

This cold snap, contrasting sharply with the autumn-like conditions of the previous week, is indicative of recent drastic temperature fluctuations. October in Beijing was one of the warmest in decades, highlighting a year of weather extremes.

While northern China copes with colder-than-usual conditions, Hangzhou is set to officially enter winter on December 16, a two-week delay from the usual schedule. The city, located near Shanghai, must record five consecutive days of sub-10 degrees Celsius temperatures to officially declare the arrival of winter, a practice in place since 1951.

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