The weather in northern China changed dramatically at the end of last week, leaving at least 7 people dead and hundreds of thousands of livestock stranded after exceptionally cold temperatures hit the province of Xinjiang. At the same time, southern China was experiencing a rare heat wave with temperatures exceeding 35 °C (95 °F) in some places. The cold wave entered South China on November 29, dropping temperatures more than 20 °C (36 °F) in just 24 hours.
In Altay, Xinjiang Province, the lowest temperature on Saturday, November 26 dropped to -48.6 °C (-55.5 °F) — close to the country’s lowest record for the month of November. It was the region’s 7th consecutive day of snow, with a record-breaking November snow depth of 46 cm (18 inches) measured.
On the same day, Xinjiang’s meteorological bureau issued its highest-level warning for extreme cold, warning residents that heavy snowstorms would continue to lash northern Xinjiang, including Altay prefecture, and that there could be drops in temperatures to well below freezing in some areas.1 It was the first time that Xinjiang had issued its highest warning for cold temperatures since 2008.
At around 23:00 LT on November 26, the city of Altay’s emergency response center received a call saying that 8 road construction workers had gone missing in extreme weather conditions. The workers were on their way to their homes after their construction work had been put on hold. The management team decided to take them to a town about 4 km (2.5 miles) from the construction site, the Altay government said in a statement.
The vehicle carrying the workers left the site around 19:10 LT but due to the extreme weather conditions, the vehicle became stranded only 500 m (1 640 feet) from the site. Failing to get the vehicle moving again, the workers decided to walk back to the site after consulting with the management team.
According to the statement, the weather conditions in the area took a turn for the worse at around 20:30 LT with stronger wind and heavier snow, and the workers lost their way. They were found around 11:10 LT on Sunday and taken to a local hospital. Unfortunately, only one of them survived.
In northern Xinjiang, many rescue missions have been carried out to save herdsmen and hundreds of thousands of livestock stranded in blizzards during the annual migration.
As the cold wave hit China’s northern provinces, the country’s south was experiencing a rare heatwave with temperatures exceeding 35 °C (95 °F) in some places. The national temperature difference was as much as 48 °C (86.4 °F) on November 28.
The heatwave in the south came to an abrupt end on November 29, when temperatures dropped more than 20 °C (36 °F) in just 24 hours.
This summer, China experienced its worst heat wave since records began more than 60 years ago. The wave stretched for more than 70 days, smashing temperature records at hundreds of locations.
1 Heavy snowstorm kills 7 road workers in Altay – China Daily – November 30, 2022
Featured image credit: Jim Yang (stillshot)
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