As evening settled and darkness fell in Nanjing on Wednesday, so the temperature finally plummeted and the rains began a flurry. Thus this morning, the city awoke to a thick snowfall, the first of this winter and 2018.
Even at this early stage, meteorological authorities are suggesting this sudden fall to be the biggest since the big freeze of 2008, in which many parts of Nanjing were cut off for as much as a week.
The weather is far from localised, with much of the northern half of China experiencing large snowfalls; the provinces of Shanxi, Shaanxi, Henan, Hubei and Anhui have seen major traffic disruptions, with airport runways closed, high speed trains delayed and highways blocked.
Heavy blizzards in the city off Shiyan in Hubei province prompted authorities to issue the Orange weather alert; second top in China’s four-level weather warning classification, while Jiangsu has been classified as Yellow, one further down the table.
Famers have been among those to welcome the white layer on their fields; the snow will raise water content levels in soil, making wheat more resistant to insects. They hardly will be surprised; this year 4th January is the start of “Xiaohan”, translated as “minor cold”, the 23rd of the 24 solar terms that play an important role in the agricultural calendar in China, and across much of Asia.
Local people with young children have been outside to have some fun, with snowmen popping up in community compounds, providing for many a selfie opportunity. While the forecast predicts the snowfall will not continue much past today, the low temperatures are expected to continue, meaning those snowmen will be sticking around for a while, long after the grass has returned.