Winter coming a week late in Beijing as northern China basks in warm weather

By Ethan Wang and Ryan Woo

BEIJING (Reuters) – Winter is expected to arrive late, and suddenly in Beijing this year as daytime temperatures hovered above 20 degrees Celsius (68 Fahrenheit), bathing the capital in a warm smog, while other parts of China basked in record highs above 30C.

The official start of winter in the capital could come on Nov. 6, state-run Beijing Daily reported on Wednesday, almost a week later than in previous years, with average temperatures expected to dive more than 10C.

The weather in many parts of China had stayed stubbornly warm entering November, with cities in eastern and central provinces such as Shandong, Anhui, Jiangsu and Henan still logging temperatures above 30C.

As of 2 p.m. (0600 GMT) on Wednesday, more than 600 meteorological stations across China had seen temperatures shatter historical highs for November, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

Beijing logged its second-warmest October last month in over 60 years. Temperatures also averaged 3.4C higher than normal in the last 10 days of the month, a record for the same period since 1961.

In tandem with the warm weather, smog has also shrouded Beijing and its surrounding areas for days.

On Thursday, heavy and dense fog is forecast to envelop regions including Beijing and surrounding cities for the fifth day, with visibility dropping below 200 metres in parts of Hebei province, China’s National Meteorological Center said.

Experts quoted by state media say the recent “rare” summer-like weather was due to weaker-than-usual cold air currents, which had also led to persistent hazy weather with heavy air pollution shrouding the city.

In coming days, temperatures across northern China are expected to drop sharply. Northeastern cities such as Shenyang, Changchun and Harbin would see a sharp drop of more than 15C.

Other cities such as Beijing, Zhengzhou, Jinan, Xian and Shijiazhuang will see a sudden decline of 10C to 15C.

(Reporting by Ethan Wang, Ryan Woo and Shanghai Newsroom; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)