Over 20 provinces across China expect to suffer freezing temps due to new cold front
Published: Dec 21, 2023 11:40 PM
A large machinery vehicle clears snow from the roads in Yantai, East China’s Shandong Province on December 21, 2023. Photo: IC

A large machinery vehicle clears snow from the roads in Yantai, East China’s Shandong Province on December 21, 2023. Photo: IC

A new strong cold front pushing north to south through China is expected to turn a vast area of the country’s territory into a huge “refrigerator” from Thursday till Saturday, leading to over 20 provinces, regions and municipalities bracing for below freezing temperatures. 

From north to south, many places across the country suffered blizzards, freezing rain, and other extremely weather conditions on Thursday. Meteorological experts explained that the recent frequent cold fronts were caused by global warming heating up the Arctic and bringing cold fronts southward. 

Temperatures in multiple places in Northeast China and North China will further plunge to record lows, as severe cold snaps and cold fronts have been making their way across the country from the north to the south since earlier this week, according to Weather China. 

The meteorological forecast website predicted on Thursday that temperatures in multiple places in the southern part of the country will drop to the lowest seen so far this season, with 0 C temperatures expected in the southern part of Southwest China’s Guizhou Province and the northern part of South China, making people from more than 20 provinces feel like they are living in a “refrigerator.”

The cold fronts that came in December, earlier than usual, have been particularly severe. Although temperatures are reaching levels rarely seen in the past, this does not mean that brass monkey weather, which usually occurs in January or February, will be colder this year, Ma Jun, director of the Beijing-based Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, told the Global Times on Thursday. 

When the rare cold front ends next week and highs rise back to 0 C or above, the average temperature will return to usual levels. 

China’s National Meteorological Center (NMC) continued to issue a yellow alert for low temperatures early Thursday morning, forecasting daily lows or daily average temperatures 5 C lower than usual in multiple regions from the middle and western part of North China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region to the regions south of the Huanghuai region. The 0 C isotherm will stretch from the southern part of Guizhou to the northern part of the South China.

According to the weather forecast on Thursday by Weather China, from north to south, the highs in the majority of Northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province and the middle and eastern parts of Inner Mongolia will be lower than -18 C. Temperatures in most parts of Northwest China, North China, and the Huanghuai and Jianghuai regions will remain below freezing, making them the “freezer compartment” of this “refrigerator” wave. 

Whereas in the southern parts of China, such as the Jiangnan area, Sichuan Basin, Chongqing and Guizhou areas, highs will remain at 10 C or below, while highs in South China and Southwest China’s Yunnan Province will remain above 10 C. 

Since the beginning of December, the temperatures across the country have experienced roller-coaster-like temperature fluctuations. The national average temperature from December 1 to 13 was higher than usual, the highest of the same period in history. However, since December 14, affected by the large-scale cold wave, the temperatures have plummeted in most parts of the country, and the maximum daily temperature drop of some national weather stations has broken historical extremes.

Between December 14 and 17, a large-scale cold wave affected a vast area of the country with wide influence, long duration and large accumulative precipitation. The maximum temperature drop reached or exceeded 20 C in 95 national weather stations, among which the maximum temperature drop in Datong, North China’s Shanxi Province, reached 26.3 C.

While a warm winter was previously forecast this year, Ma explained that such extreme cold weather conditions will not necessarily overturn previous predictions. Before the impact of the recent cold waves, the southern part of the country, especially the Yangtze River basin, did experience warmer weather than usual. The overall average temperature in the next phase will decide whether this winter will be considered a warm winter, Ma said, noting that more attention should be paid to increasing extreme weather.

Since the strong cold wave gripped Northeast China’s Jilin Province on December 15, temperatures in the province have plunged to freezing. According to the Jilin Meteorological Service, the highest temperatures during daytime in Jilin on Thursday was between -20 C and -16 C and the lowest temperature was forecast to be between -30 C and -27 C, with temperatures in some mountainous areas in the southeastern part of the province dropping as low as -32 C. 

On Wednesday, the Jilin Meteorological Service forecast that temperatures in the middle and western parts of the province will rise starting Saturday while the eastern part of the province must wait to Sunday to see a rise. 

In East China’s Shandong Province, the coastal cities of Yantai and Weihai have suffered snowstorms since December 15, with a blizzard pouring 35.6 millimeters of snow on the Wendeng district in Weihai. 

The Shandong Meteorological Bureau has forecast snowstorms or blizzards in Yantai and Weihai from Wednesday to Friday with accumulated snowfall reaching 35 millimeters or above. 

Meanwhile, East China’s Shanghai recorded the chilliest day of December in four decades with temperatures expected to remain below zero all day throughout the city, the Shanghai Meteorological Bureau said, noting the city’s lowest temperatures will reach -4 to -6 C in the city’s suburbs. 

Local meteorological experts have forecast that the lowest temperatures will remain below 0 C in Shanghai between Thursday and Monday, possibly the coldest mid-December in the past four decades. 

The water in the West Lake in Hangzhou, East China’s Zhejiang Province, even froze over early Thursday morning as the temperature dropped to only -4 C, the NMC said in a post on Sina Weibo. 

Affected by the continuous low temperature, patients suffering from frostbite are also increasing, and some hospitals have set up frostbite clinics. 

A doctor from the dermatology department of Zhongda Hospital Southeast University told the Health Times – affiliated to People’s Daily – that the recent frostbite patients mainly suffer from frostbite on the hands, feet, ears, face and other parts. Most of them had stayed outdoors for a long time, such as riding electric bikes and doing outdoor work. Some children suffer from ear frostbite due to playing outdoors.