In Yunnan, southern China (Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam borders), rarely snowing in the summer

Unexpected snow blanketed the Baima Snow Mountain Nature Reserve in Deqen Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in southwest China’s Yunnan Province.

The unusual snowfall – in the middle of summer – results from the consecutive rain and decreased temperature. High altitude areas such as the Baima Snow Mountain Nature Reserve have turned into a world of ice and snow.

In the region, winter, or possibly spring or autumn cold spells with snowing are relative often, but during the summer, above the southern latitude of the region is snowing very rarely.

There are 2 factors which helped to snowing in Baima Snow Mountain Nature Reseve:

  1. Long period with rain in high altitude with gradual decreasing temperature
  2. Cold blast linked with southern-shifted meander of Jet stream with Arctic air mass blowing to southern latitudes

Let´s look some information about Yunan:

Yunnan is a province in the south of China. The capital of the province is Kunming, formerly also known as Yunnan. The province borders the Chinese provinces of Guizhou, Sichuan, autonomous regions of Guangxi, and Tibet as well as Southeast Asian countries: Vietnam, Laos, and Myanmar.

Yunnan, running through the tropic climate zone, but has a generally mild climate with pleasant and fair weather because of the province’s location on south-facing mountain slopes, receiving the influence of both the Pacific and Indian oceans, and although the growing period is long, the rugged terrain provides little arable land.

Under the Köppen climate classification, much of the province lies within the subtropical highland (Köppen Cwb) or huid subtropical zone (Cwa), with mild to warm winters, and temperate summers, except in the almost tropical to truly tropical south, where temperatures regularly exceed 30 °C (86 °F) in the warmer half of the year. 

In general, January average temperatures range from 8 to 17 °C (46 to 63 °F); July averages vary from 21 to 27 °C (70 to 81 °F). Average annual rainfall ranges from 600 to 2,300 millimetres (24 to 91 in), with over half the rain occurring between June and August. The western canyon region is hot at the valley bottoms, but there are freezing winds at the mountaintops.

The average elevation is 1,980 metres (6,500 ft). The mountains are highest in the north where they reach more than 5,000 m (16,000 ft); in the south they rise no higher than 3,000 m (9,800 ft). The highest point in the north is the Kawagebo Peak in Deqin County on the Diqing Plateau, which is about 6,740 m (22,110 ft).

The eastern half of the province is a limestone plateau with karst scenery and unnavigable rivers flowing through deep mountain gorges; the western half is characterised by mountain ranges and rivers running north and south. These include the Nujiang (Thai: Salween) and the Lancangjiang (Thai: Mekong). The rugged, vertical terrain produces a wide range of flora and fauna, and the province has been called a natural zoological and botanical garden.

Photo and video documentation from Yunan, southern China (on borders with Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam):

(Cover images taken by Zhang Pengwan at Baima Snow Mountain Nature Reserve in Deqen Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in southwest China’s Yunnan Province, August 21, 2020.)

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Author: marekkucera
Writer about weather since 2007. The goal of this project is to inform a wide audience about extremes of weather, atmospheric circulation, and climate change around the world. If you like our work, you can support us on Patreon or donate.