Wednesday forecast for capital just short of record low set 21 years ago
North China is expected to see temperatures drop by up to 10 C, while Central and East China will see a drop of around 8 C from Tuesday till Friday as a cold air mass sweeps through the country, the National Meteorological Center forecast on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, a low of-16 C has been forecast for Beijing, just short of the record low of -17 C recorded in 2000, the Beijing Meteorological Service said.
It said that from Wednesday through Friday, the capital will suffer from a dive in temperatures of about 8 C, with temperatures forecast to remain low till next Wednesday.
The Beijing bureau launched an emergency response on Tuesday, telling residents to keep warm and urging government departments and agricultural and public service sectors to be prepared.
The National Meteorological Center said that temperatures in regions along the Qinling Mountains and the Huaihe River will drop below -10 C, the southernmost places that temperatures lower than-10 C will have reached this week, and in northern parts of South China temperatures will drop below zero.
Affected by the cold air, the Xinjiang Uygur and Tibet autonomous regions and Qinghai province will have snowstorms with precipitation of up to 18 millimeters from Tuesday to Wednesday.
From Wednesday till Thursday, snow or sleet will hit Southwest China and the Yangtze River region, accompanied by fog or wind gusts of up to 88 kilometers per hour, the center said.
On Friday, sleet and snow will arrive in Northwest China, Southwest China and the Shandong Peninsula.
Strong winds with speeds of up to 110 km/h will hit the South China Sea, Bohai Sea and Yellow Sea.
The center issued a nationwide blue cold warning on Tuesday, the lowest level in its four-tier system and the first of its kind since the new year began. In December, the center issued two nationwide cold weather warnings.
"In the first half of January, temperatures in North China and areas along the Huaihe and Yellow rivers will remain lower than the same period in normal years due to the rounds of cold air mass that have swept China since December," Fang Chong, the center's chief forecaster, said.
Yuan Yuan, a researcher at the National Climate Center, said the weather was partly caused by La Nina, a fluctuation in sea-air interactions that describes the cooling of ocean surface water.
"The phenomenon brought stronger cold air activities at large scales in most parts of China and temperatures will be more likely to drop below that in normal years," she said.
Fang said the cold air will remain in Central and East China for the next 10 days before moving southward.
The center warned that transportation and police authorities should prepare for icy roads, and farmers and herdsmen need to prepare proper greenhouses for their plants and shelter for animals to prevent them from freezing.