China sets new records for extreme temperatures: sharp contrasts between cold and heat observed through weather tracking.

China sets new records for extreme temperatures: sharp contrasts between cold and heat observed through weather tracking.

The Xinjiang region of China, located in the western part of the country, recently had its coldest day on record with temperatures reaching -52.3C on February 18th. This broke a 64-year-old record for the region and was only slightly higher than the overall lowest recorded temperature of -53C in the Heilongjiang region in January 2020.

The recent severe weather conditions have resulted in major disruptions following the lunar new year festivities. Heavy snow and ice have stranded individuals on both roads and railways. Interestingly, on that exact day, the southern city of Badu experienced a scorching maximum temperature of 38C, resulting in a staggering temperature difference of 90.3C within the country. This sets a new record for the largest temperature contrast ever recorded in a single country, surpassing the previous record held by the US in January 1954 with a difference of one degree Celsius.

During the same week, a weather disturbance near the southeastern coast of Brazil became stronger and developed into Tropical Storm Akará. The Brazilian Navy Hydrographic Center announced on February 18th that the storm had formed overnight, bringing sustained winds of 40mph and a pressure of 1,000 millibars.

In contrast to the northern Atlantic, it is uncommon for tropical cyclones to emerge in the southern hemisphere due to strong winds and a lack of favorable weather conditions for growth. Akará is the most recent tropical storm to be named in the South Atlantic Ocean after Tropical Storm Iba in 2019 and only the third since Anita in 2010. Additionally, Hurricane Catarina in 2004 remains the only recorded hurricane in the history of the South Atlantic.

Akará formed from the remnants of a cold front that had previously caused heavy rainfall in parts of South America. As it moved over warmer waters and was influenced by a plume of tropical moisture, the low-pressure system quickly intensified into a tropical storm. However, due to its south-west trajectory over the Atlantic Ocean, it posed no threat to the mainland. The Brazilian National Institute of Meteorology predicted marine impacts, such as waves up to 4.9 meters (16 feet) and winds reaching 50mph. By Tuesday, the Brazilian navy reported that the storm had weakened to a tropical depression and was moving away from mainland Brazil. As it continued to travel over cooler waters, the system further diminished in strength on Wednesday.