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Home : China Guide : Beijing : Weather of Beijing

Beijing has a continental climate. Annual rainfall averages nearly 700 millimetres, most of it comes in July and August. Winter is dry and cold and has little snow, The frost-free period is 185 days. The best time to visit Beijing is May, September and October, when people enjoy bright sunny sky.

In winter, it is cold and dry. Due to the Siberian air masses that move southward across the Mongolian Plateau. The summers are hot owing to warm and humid monsoon winds from the southeast bringing Beijing most of its annual precipitation. January is the coldest month and July is the warmest. Winter usually begins towards the end of October. The summer months, June to August, are wet and hot with about 40% of the annual precipitation.

Less Water & More Wind
Originating in Mayi County, Shanxi Province, the Yongding (stability forever) River in Beijing's southwestern suburbs was formerly called Wuding (no stability) River, owing to its frequent flooding and fickle course. Running through the loess plateau, the river carried a high quantity of silt, and was therefore dubbed a minor Yellow River. In 1698, Qing governor Yu Chenglong launched a massive project, dredging the river and reinforcing its banks. It was then renamed the Yongding River.

Noted for its graceful shape and consummate stone carving, the Lugou Bridge (Marco Polo Bridge) that spans the Yongding River was built in the Jin Dynasty (1115-1234). Its 266-meter length testifies to this river's past abundance. Bright Moon over the Lugou Bridge has been one of the eight celebrated views of Beijing since the Jin Dynasty. In recent years, however, relentless drying up has obliged the local people to take decisive measures in order to prevent this traditional view from disappearing. They now retain the level of river water with the help of a rubber dam.

More serious still, water shortages threaten the ongoing production and everyday life of Beijing people, who still have extravagant habits as regards water consumption. It is quite understandable that so many people believe water to be a cheap and inexhaustible resource, given the fact that the monthly water rate for a household two decades ago was even less than the price of a single bottle of mineral water today.

Beijing began to raise its water rates a few years ago, in an attempt to encourage water conservation among its residents. From 2001 to the first half of 2002 alone, the rate underwent three increases -- from 1.6 yuan per ton to 2.0 yuan, and then to 2.5 yuan. An even more stringent water consumption regulation is soon to be announced. Last year the Beijing Government distributed free leak-preventive taps to local households. New sewage treatment plants have also been built, and water consumption in the industrial sector is more tightly controlled. Although these measures have had some positive effect, more drastic measures are needed.

The major drawback is insufficient precipitation in northern China. Apart from Beijing, other populous cities in this area, including Tianjin, Shijiazhuang, Taiyuan, Xi'an, Jinan and Qingdao, also have water shortages that are becoming increasingly serious, despite strenuous efforts. The project of diverting water from the south to the north is therefore a priority, and is expected to commence this year.

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