China's cold snap reaches Shanghai

China’s cold snap reaches Shanghai with chilliest year-end in 40 years

/ 02:48 PM December 21, 2023

China's cold snap reaches Shanghai with chilliest year-end in 40 years

A woman adjusts the hood on a down jacket for a man on a cold winter day in Shanghai, China December 21, 2023. REUTERS/Nicoco Chan

SHANGHAI — China’s financial hub Shanghai was set to record its chilliest period in December in four decades, spurring authorities to issue warnings for low temperatures and wind, while northern cities battled icy conditions forecast to ease only next week.

The city’s lowest temperatures on Thursday will be minus 4 to minus 6 degrees Celsius (21 to 24 degrees Fahrenheit) in Shanghai’s suburbs, and temperatures will remain below zero all day throughout the city, the Shanghai Meteorological Bureau said in a post on its Weibo social media account.


Wang Kaiyun, 59, who works as a cleaner in downtown Shanghai and commutes from the city’s suburbs on an electric scooter, said the temperature was minus 5 C on her one-hour ride in on Thursday.


“Even though I was wearing gloves, I quickly lost feeling in my hands and they are still painful now,” Wang said.

READ: Cold wave grips northern China as temperatures in south plummet

While the city’s temperatures remain far warmer than those in northern China, where many provinces have recorded historically low temperatures in recent weeks, the run of cold weather was unusual for Shanghai.

The city’s weather bureau said it expects the minimum temperature at one downtown reading station to remain below zero for five straight days until Dec. 25, a run of cold in December that hasn’t occurred in 40 years.

“This year is not normal. This year is super cold and it was not this cold last year,” said 68-year-old Shanghai resident surnamed Li.

The unusually frigid weather ushered in by a powerful wave of cold air from Siberia has spread across China since the middle of last week, with many northern provinces rewriting December records as the mercury sank as low as minus 30°C in some cities.


READ: China’s Beijing girds for blizzards, looks to avert disruption

While the snowfall was modest compared to deep snowdrifts and blizzards seen in North America and Europe, the bitter cold, ice and gusty conditions in China have disrupted road, rail and air transportation, sharply increased demand for heating, and even hampered rescue efforts in the northwest where an earthquake destroyed over 200,000 homes.

In Lvliang, a city of 3 million people in the province of Shanxi, firefighters had to put out a fire in a building even as their protective helmets and jackets quickly became encased in ice in minus 18°C conditions, state media reported on Thursday.

The cold snap has also threatened to freeze China’s busy online food delivery sector. On social media, some people have expressed their reluctance to order takeout in the extreme cold due to worries for the safety of delivery drivers.

READ: Snowfall shrouds north China in prelude to even colder weather

Their concerns prompted the official Workers’ Daily on Thursday to urge people “not to dwell on narratives of suffering” but instead, think of the potential loss of income for delivery drivers.

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The prolonged sub-freezing conditions across China are expected to ease from Friday, with temperatures rising back to historical averages next week, according to national forecasters.

TAGS: China, Cold, Weather

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