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Rare snowfall hits southern China as north endures deep freeze

satellite image acquired on december 20 2023 showing epicenter of m6.2 earthquake on december 18 gansu china

China is experiencing a severe cold wave, with rare snowfall reported in Guangdong province in the south, while northern regions face near-historic low temperatures.

China is currently undergoing a wave of cold weather, bringing rare snowfall to areas as far south as Guangdong province. Meanwhile, the northern parts of the country are experiencing near-historic low temperatures. In the north, temperatures have dipped below zero, affecting transportation and causing issues such as a brake failure on a Beijing commuter train.

Despite early predictions of a warmer winter due to El Niño, the reality has been a week of frigid weather following one of the warmest Octobers in decades. Guangdong, typically seeing limited snowfall, experienced a snowy mountain top just 80 km (50 miles) north of Guangzhou. The region, usually enjoying double-digit temperatures in early winter, is now facing a low of 8 °C (46 °F).

YouTube video

In Shanghai, snow flurries were observed, and Beijing experienced a significant drop in temperature to -15.5 °C (4.1 °F), nearing its 1952 historic low. The national forecaster warns of continued low temperatures at least until Thursday, December 21, with some regions expected to be 7 °C (13 °F) colder than typical.

This cold weather is complicating rescue efforts in Gansu Province, where a recent M6.2 earthquake caused over 120 fatalities. Emergency response teams, including firefighters, soldiers, and police officers are operating under temperatures of -13 °C (8.7 °F).

The earthquake in Gansu is the deadliest since the M6.1 earthquake in Yunnan Province in 2014, which resulted in 617 deaths.

On December 20, 5 stations in China broke the lowest record in history.

Yunzhou registered -33.2 °C (-27.76 °F), breaking the previous record of -31.9 °C (-25.42 °F); Qingshuihe registered -29.7 °C (-21.46 °F), breaking the previous record of -29.4 °C (-20.92 °F); Yangqu -27 °C (-16.6 °F), breaking the previous record of -26.8 °C (-16.24 °F); Baoding -23.3 °C (-9.94 °F), breaking the previous record of -22 °C (-7.6 °F); and Shunping -22 °C (-7.6 °F), breaking the previous record of -21.6 °C (-6.88 °F).

References:

1 Rare snowfall in southern China as deep freeze grips the north – Reuters – December 18, 2023

2 Deadly M6.2 earthquake strikes northwest China, leaving over 100 fatalities, nearly 5 000 homes damaged – The Watchers – December 19, 2023

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