Beijing Faces Coldest December on Record Amid Global Weather Extremes
China’s capital, Beijing, is experiencing its coldest December on record since 1951 as lows of less than -10C are sustained throughout the month. This striking contrast comes after a year of extraordinary weather in the city, which only six months ago experienced its hottest-ever June day with temperatures above 40C.
This winter, China has seen several waves of extreme cold; in less than two weeks, a Beijing weather observatory recorded almost 300 hours of below-freezing temperatures. Numerous provinces have experienced transportation difficulties and school closures as a result of the extremely cold weather. Particularly in Henan province, there are problems with energy sources; heating boilers are said to be breaking down as a result of the ongoing cold.
The cold wave is not limited to China; alerts for significant snow accumulation in the prefectures of Gifu and Hokkaido, reaching approximately one meter (39 inches), have been issued due to the exceptionally heavy snowfall that is occurring in northern Japan. The Korean Meteorological Administration reports that excessive temperature variations have been observed in South Korea recently, with swings ranging from 16C to below -12C).
A weakening of the Polar Vortex, an area of cold air usually focused around the Arctic, is thought to be the source of this cold snap. The chilly air is able to move further south than usual due to this weakening. Although scientists continue to disagree over how climate change affects these weather patterns, the effects of severe weather on infrastructure and daily life are seen in many areas.