Cold Snap Prompts Early Start to Beijing’s Heating Season

Beijing residents no longer have to shiver this winter season because, as Glenn Fry would say, "The heat is on!"

Monday night's cold snap prompted city officials to activate Beijing's central heating system a day before the official start date, which traditionally falls on November 15.

READ: Beicology: Can Beijingers Pedal the Pollution Away With Futuristic Smog Cleaning Bikes?

Temperatures plummeted to 0 degrees Celsius late Monday night after the city was beset by category 5 northern winds that itself prompted a blue warning alert for high winds with gusts expected to reach category 7.

The news couldn't come at a better time as the forecast for the rest of the week calls for nighttime temperatures to drop to -4 degrees Celsius.

Chilly temperatures also caused an early start to heating season in Beijing last year when a November 13 start was scheduled two weeks in advance. A premature start also happened back in 2012.

READ: Beijing's New Air-Purified Bus Line Is a Bust, Fails to Pass Our Simple AQI Test

Although newly-built homes in the suburbs are heated by electricity, much of central Beijing is heated using a centralized heating system. Boilers throughout the city use 12,000 tons of water heated between 75 and 90 degrees Celsius to heat 840 million square meters of living space, 30 million more than last year.

Due to a reliance on coal as the main fuel source, the annual heating season has traditionally brought notoriously smoggy skies every winter.

The good news for us is that local authorities are planning to further reduce coal burning within city limits by 30 percent, continuing a trend that saw the shuttering of Beijing's four major remaining coal-burning power plants last year and a boiler located in the heart of the CBD.

READ: Melting Polar Ice Caps Mean That Beijing is in for Many More Airpocalypses, Experts Warn

However, the bad news is that the international climate isn't cooperating. Among other reasons, China isn't expected to be impacted by cold air fronts from the north this winter, leading to milder temperatures and stagnant air that leads to smoggy skies.

Taking the good with the bad only leads to conflicting reports on this winter's air quality, so just take it from us: stay warm, and stay protected

More stories from this author here.

Twitter: @Sinopath
E-mail: [email protected]

Photos: China Dailybjbsds, NetEase