Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Record snow hits China and South Korea

Police stand guard at Tiananmen Square in Beijing. Temperatures are expected to fall to -18C in the Chinese capital by tomorrow night.
From the Guardian:

British commuters may have shivered, cursed and slid as they headed back to work after the Christmas break today, but the UK has been spared the worst of the cold weather that is gripping much of the northern hemisphere, bringing freezing temperatures and record snowfalls to parts of north Asia, Europe and the US.

The punishing winter weather has brought transport chaos to China and South Korea and claimed at least 60 lives in northern and eastern India.

Reports suggest that the states of Punjab, Bihar, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh have borne the brunt of the freezing temperatures in India. "We are looking into the deaths and in the meantime have asked local authorities to arrange bonfires in the evening for the homeless," said a government official in Bihar, who added that all schools had been closed.

A heavy blanket of fog in New Delhi forced airport authorities to cancel or delay dozens of flights from the capital and train services were also disrupted.

In China more than 2.2 million pupils in Beijing and nearby Tianjin enjoyed a day off as officials took the rare step of closing thousands of schools. Temperatures in the Chinese capital are expected to fall to –18C on Tuesday night, with predictions they could reach –32C in the northernmost parts of the country by Wednesday morning.

In Beijing authorities mobilised more than 300,000 people to clear the streets after Sunday's blizzard dumped 8cm (3in)of snow – the most in the capital in a single day in January since 1951...

Officials will also be concerned about the strain the cold weather will place on China's gas and oil supplies. There have been gas shortages in the last two months as demand has risen in the unusually cold weather. More snow is expected this week.

In Seoul a blizzard dumped more than 25cm of snow today – the heaviest snowfall since Korea began conducting meteorological surveys in 1937, the state weather agency said.

In Switzerland police said three people were still missing after two successive avalanches hit the Bernese Oberland.

They declined to give the victims' nationalities, saying only that three people had died in the first avalanche, while the doctor sent to help them had become engulfed by the second and had died later in hospital. Eight people were rescued, some seriously injured.

The US is also experiencing an unusually chilly winter, with cold and windy weather along the east coast and record low temperatures in southern states such as Georgia, Alabama and Florida.

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