The Washington Post

Coldest weather in 28 years hits China

A view of the city skyline is seen through snow crusted nettings at a park in Beijing, China, 06 January 2012. (HOW HWEE YOUNG/EPA)

While Australia simmers, China shivers.

Yesterday, I wrote Australia is experiencing what’s arguably its worst heat wave in history. But on the opposite side of the eastern hemisphere, bitter cold air has gripped large parts of central Asia.

The average temperature in China since Nov. 20 has been just 25 degrees F, the coldest in 28 years according to the China Meteorological Administration.

North China is suffering through its coldest winter in 42 years, with an average temperature of 18.7 degrees F, 4.3 degrees F below average writes China Daily.

The frigid air killed 180,000 cattle USA Today writes, while the Financial Times reports the cold has led to inflation and a spike in vegetable prices.

“As the cold weather continued to bite, many people in the south were calling for public heating to be installed,” reports China Daily.

Ring-necked pheasants groom themselves in their snowned in enclosure in a park in Beijing, China, 06 January 2012. (HOW HWEE YOUNG/EPA)

The cold is China has mostly originated from sprawling arctic high pressure systems in Siberia where, according to the New York Times: “thousands of people were left without heat when natural gas liquefied in its pipes and water mains burst.”

Some of this arctic air has bled even further south and west.

Al Jazeera reports that Bangladesh logged its coldest temperatures in 40 years, down to around 37 degrees F in the tropical country. “People are not prepared for cold weather and most homes have no form of heating,” it writes.

In India, there have been 254 cold-related deaths according to the Press Trust of India.

As some of the deadly cold air mass was drawn into the Middle East earlier this week, it clashed with warm, moist air from the Mediterranean, leading to the snowstorm we reported on yesterday, which blanketed Jerusalem with 4-8 inches of snow.

Long range forecast models show some relief from the cold in China with normal to above normal temperatures in the coming week.

Jason is the Washington Post’s weather editor and Capital Weather Gang's chief meteorologist. He earned a master's degree in atmospheric science, and spent 10 years as a climate change science analyst for the U.S. government. He holds the Digital Seal of Approval from the National Weather Association.

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