Wednesday, February 27, 2008

If Winter goes.....

Can Spring be far behind?

The answer in Beijing, unfortunately, is YES.

For the past few days the temperature has been nudging above freezing by 9 in the morning. Since early December (with just a few freakish exceptions - Christmas Day was spookily mild, for example), things haven't "warmed up" that much until late morning or early afternoon, if at all. For a week or more now, the nighttime temperatures have barely been getting below freezing. And today was just gorgeous: this afternoon it got above 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Tonight, it is predicted that the temperature will stay well above freezing all night.

This really felt like 'the first day of Spring'. Certainly, if the temperatures continue this balmy for a few more days, some of the trees may be fooled into readying themselves to push out buds. But, as I reported last year, this is a fairly typical - and frustrating - pattern for the Beijing weather. Things start cheering up around the middle of February; by late February or early March, it may even appear that Spring is indeed upon us. Sometimes we even get some premature buds and blossoms appearing. But always, always, always (at least in the 5 years I've been here) Spring doesn't show up for real until the last weekend in March. Until then we can expect a few days or a week of unseasonal warmth here and there, alternating with sudden savage relapses of cold weather (we've even had the odd late fall of snow in March and April).

It is one of the best times of year in Beijing: the skies can be quite stunning. But it is a problem to know how to dress.

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