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    Cold Outbreak to Chill East Asia

    December 19, 2012, 5:32:07 AM EST

    The coldest weather since last winter will follow a blast of arctic cold set to sweep through much of China as well as Korea and Japan beginning Sunday.

    Temperatures will dive 15, 20 and even up to 30 degrees F below normal in north and northeast China into Korea and the Russian Far East.

    Heavy snow triggered by the outbreak will hit western Japan hard but will also target western South Korea.

    The leading edge of the bitter cold, marked by an arctic cold front, will roll southeast out of Siberia and Mongolia beginning on Saturday.


    Numerical forecast model prediction of low temperature for Sunday morning, Dec. 23, 2012. Gray patches in the north mark forecast lows of 35 to 40 degrees F below zero.

    In Beijing, Sunday will start with temperatures as low as 0 degrees F, later rising no higher than 20 degrees. Wind will make it feel much colder still. Monday will be nearly as cold.

    Normal temperatures this time of year range from a high of about 36 degrees to a low near 17 degrees.

    Seoul, South Korea, will also have readings no higher than 20 degrees F on Sunday, followed by lows near 5 degrees Sunday night.

    Typically, Seoul registers a high on average near 36 degrees and a low of about 19 degrees this time of year.

    Yet the populous swath of land spanning Beijing and Seoul will get only a glancing blow from this stab of arctic air.

    Harbin, a metropolis of about 10 million people in China's northeast, will have readings as many as 25 to 30 degrees below zero F -- up to 20 degrees below normal -- Saturday night to Monday night.

    Colder outlying areas elsewhere in the northeast will reach about 50 degrees below zero F.

    Farther south and east, the cold outbreak will trigger "sea-effect" snows, downwind of where intense continental cold meets the relative warmth of the Yellow Sea and the Sea of Japan.

    Snowfall may be heavy along and near the western shores of South Korea Sunday and Monday.

    Meanwhile, bursts of heavy snow and soft hail, some with thunder and lightning, will hit the western side of Honshu both Sunday and Monday. Inland, these will become intense showers of snow piling up by the foot along the hills and mountains.

    Greater Tokyo will miss out, both on the harsh cold and the snow, although it may have its coldest weather of the season thus far.

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