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China's Climate


The incredibly cold winters in northeastern and northern China fall between December and March. Average daily temperatures in Shenyang (Mukden), Manchuria, swing between -18 and -6°C (-30.4 and 21°F) in January. At Harbin, on the north central Manchurian Plain, January brings average daily high temperatures of just -13°C (8°F) and low temperatures that hover around -23°C (-10°F). Manchuria's rivers remain frozen an average of five months each year.

Over the North China Plain, winter is relatively long and with frequent north winds bringing dry arctic air out of Mongolia. While Beijing's January average high temperature is just 1°C (34°F), it is generally dry and sunny. Nighttime temperatures can drop to below -8°C (17°F). North of the Great Wall in Inner Mongolia, or Heilongjiang, it's much colder with temperatures dropping down to -40°C (-40°F) and you'll see the curious sight of sand dunes covered with snow. Winters in the Yangtze River valley are short and cold, almost as cold as Beijing, with temperatures dipping well below freezing. It can also be wet and miserable at anytime apart from summer.

Winter across northwest China is as bitterly cold as the rest of northern China, but a lot drier. January temperatures in the desert regions of China's northwest and western interior range from -11 to 1°C (12 to 34°F). In Urumqi, in central Sinkiang Province, the average high temperature in January is -8°C (17°F), with minimums down to almost -30°C (-22°F). Temperatures in the Turfan Depression, which sits 150 m (-492 ft) below sea level, are only slightly more favorable to human existence.

China's southeastern region enjoys cool winters with substantial rainfall. The far south, around Guangzhou (Canton), has a short winter from January to March that is nowhere near as cold as in the north. Guangzhou's average high temperature in January is a pleasant 17°C (64°F), with overnight lows drooping to around 10°C (51°F). Still, temperature statistics alone don't really indicate just how cold it can feel when you consider the high relative humidity. Temperatures have dropped to 1°C (34°F) in December and January. On Taiwan, winter average temperatures generally remain above 5°C (41°F). February is the coldest month among the South China Sea Islands, with an average temperature of 22.9°C (73.2°F).

Winter brings an intense cold and fierce winds to Tibet and Qinghai Province. Winters here are particularly harsh, with valley temperatures hovering around -10°C (14°F) in January.


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