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Cold Wave Grips Beijing and Seoul, Brings Snow to Japan

By By Kristina Pydynowski, senior meteorologist
December 05, 2014, 10:44:34 PM EST

The coldest air since last winter has descended upon northeastern Asia and will even trigger substantial snow in northern Japan.

On the heels of the blizzard that pounded places near the easternmost border of China and Russia, a dome of high pressure is expanding its frigid grip across northeastern Asia.

The high is bringing the coldest air since last winter to many communities, including Beijing, China, and Seoul, South Korea.

High temperatures in both Beijing and Seoul will be held to within a few degrees of freezing (30s F) through this weekend with lows dipping to around 8 below zero C (upper teens F).

Prior to this week, residents in both cities have not had to endure such chilly temperatures since February.


Occasional gusty winds, especially through midweek for Beijing, will create even lower RealFeel® temperatures.

The cold will also set the stage for a pair of weather disturbances and the sea-effect snow mechanism to bring snow and squalls to southwestern South Korea and along northern and western parts of Honshu and western Hokkaido in Japan through much of the week.

The mechanism behind sea-effect snow is similar to what triggers lake-effect snow downwind of the Great Lakes in the United States and Canada--cold winds blowing over the relatively warmer waters of the Yellow Sea and the Sea of Japan gives rise to the sea-effect snow.

Detailed Forecast for Beijing, China
Detailed Forecast for Seoul, South Korea
Japan Weather Center

By the time this week ends, some western slopes of the mountains in northern and central Honshu and Hokkaido will be buried by a meter (3.3 feet) or more of snow. Travel in these communities will be brought to a standstill.

Seoul received a quick 2.5 cm (1 inch) of snow on Wednesday as squalls developed from the cold air streaming across the Yellow Sea.

Relief from the cold wave is in sight but will not last long, according to International Weather Expert Jason Nicholls.

"It appears that the cold will ease early next week with more seasonable temperatures. However, there will be a reinforcing shot of cold later next week."

Nicholls added that snow could return to Seoul and northern Japan with next week's cold blast.

"The cold pattern in eastern Asia may flip back to mild late in the month, perhaps around or just after Christmas," continued Nicholls.

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