On Sunday, China’s northernmost city of Mohe saw the temperature dip to minus-63.4 degrees (minus-53 Celsius). That’s the coldest temperature measured in the country during modern times, the local meteorology bureau confirmed.
The low temperature was recorded by an automated temperature sensor; it surpassed the previous national record of minus-62.1 (minus-52.3 Celsius) from 1969.
Cold extremes such as these have become uncommon in recent decades because of human-caused climate change. Global warming decreases the frequency and intensity of historic cold spells, but it does not eliminate them.
The historic cold in China comes in stark contrast to its most extreme heat wave on record observed this past summer.
Nearby weather stations also registered extraordinarily low temperatures.
Another weather station in Mohe, staffed by an observer, registered a low of minus-59.4 degrees (minus-50.8 Celsius). That was the coldest in China since 1969, tweeted climate historian specialist Maximiliano Herrera. Temperatures at this station fell to at least minus-58 degrees (minus-50 Celsius) for three straight nights for only the second time on record.
At least 18 weather stations dipped to minus-58 degrees (minus-50 Celsius) or lower in China on Sunday morning, tweeted climate specialist Jim Yang. The cold has eased somewhat since, but numerous readings of minus-40 degrees (minus-40 Celsius) or lower were observed Monday.
Other locations in China, including Huzhong at minus-57.6 degrees (minus-49.8 Celsius) and Tahe at minus 54.2 degrees (minus-47.9 Celsius) also broke records Saturday.
Extremely cold air also visited eastern Siberia. The temperature in Aldan — a town with just over 20,000 people — dipped to minus-58 degrees (minus-50 Celsius) over the weekend. That surpassed the city’s previous record low of minus-55.7 degrees (minus-48.7 Celsius), according to Etienne Kapikian, a meteorologist with France’s meteorological agency, Meteo France.
The frigid air is now on the move eastward. It is set to spread over eastern China, Japan, the Korean Peninsula and parts of eastern Russia Tuesday and Wednesday. In many of these places, it will be the coldest weather of this winter so far.
Temperatures are projected to fall to between 5 and minus-13 degrees (minus-15 to minus-25 Celsius) over eastern Asia, including the Korean Peninsula. Japan should see temperatures dip to a range of 23 to 5 degrees (minus-5 to minus-15 Celsius), and even lower in the mountains.
These forecast readings are about 36 degrees (20 degrees Celsius) below normal in eastern Asia and about 18 degrees (10 degrees Celsius) below normal in Japan.
“Japan will experience a dangerous chill along with heavy snow from Tuesday to Thursday,” tweeted Sayaka Mori, a broadcast meteorologist based in the country. “There are threats of frozen pipes, slippery roads, and traffic disruptions over much of the nation.”
This extreme chill comes on the heels of historic cold in Siberia in recent weeks.
Because of strong high pressure and a skirmish with the polar vortex, parts of Siberia fell to as low as minus-80.9 degrees (minus-62.7 Celsius) on Jan. 17. It was the coldest temperature in Russia since 2002 and the coldest in January since 1982, according to climate expert Thierry Goose.
Although cold air has mainly been locked up in the Siberian region in recent weeks, some has also reached parts of western and southern Europe into North Africa. There are signs that significant cold air may eventually move into North America by the end of the month, where it has been missing much of the winter.
Jason Samenow contributed to this report.