Beijing saw this winter’s first snowfall on Monday as the Chinese capital was forecast to experience its coldest period from November 21 to 27 for the past 30 years.
The cold front sweeping through northern parts of China is expected to see temperatures drop by between six to 10 degrees Celsius.
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The temperature range on Monday was forecast to be between a high of zero degrees Celsius and a low of minus 8 degrees Celsius. The snow started to fall on Sunday night after a day of drizzle and is expected to last until about noon on Monday.
Dozens of flights leaving from and arriving at Beijing Capital International Airport have been cancelled due to the cold weather, the airport said. Beijing municipal government has also suspended the services of 19 bus routes.
Some sections of highway linking central Beijing to the suburbs have been closed due to icy roads.
The temperature will drop further between Tuesday and Thursday with a high of minus 2 degrees Celsius as a result of strong winds brought to the area by the cold front.
As this cold front moves south, central and eastern provinces, including Shaanxi, Henan, Anhui, Hubei and Hunan are also forecast to experience a sharp drop in temperatures – up to 16 degrees in some areas.
Zhou Bing, chief engineer at the National Climate Centre, said China had recorded 55 per cent more rainfall in October compared with average levels in past years. He said the rare temperature fluctuations were caused by a combination of La Niña and global climate change, and the country needed to be prepared for more extreme weather events over the winter.
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La Niña refers to the phenomenon of cooler than normal ocean surface temperatures in the eastern and central Pacific Ocean – regions close to the equator, off the west coast of South America. In some parts of the world, La Niña causes increased rainfall while in other regions it can cause extreme dry conditions.