A cold mass from the North Pole hit Asia. South Korea, Japan and China registered record low temperatures. Seoul experienced the strongest cold spell in 35 years, with the mercury dropping to minus 18.6 degrees. The Han River began to freeze. To secure a safe route, the officials had to use an icebreaker ship.
In Japan, unusual cold weather led to a high electricity demand. Peak electricity demand in the country was about 90% more than expected supply. To prevent a nationwide blackout, the authorities have called on the public to use less power. A power outage could further damage the economy already struggling with another wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
China’s Central Meteorological Station released the first cold warning in 2021 to several regions. Cities such as the eastern port city of Qingdao recorded the lowest temperature in history and the capital city Beijing had its coldest day since the 1960s on Jan 7th.
The extreme cold wave was attributed to a negative Arctic Oscillation, which is a climate pattern that influences weather in the Northern Hemisphere. A very strong ridge of high pressure allows cold Arctic air to slide south.