Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Mongolia | Dönön Ükhiin Ever Khöldöne | Killer Winter

The Fourth of the Nine-Nines, known as Dönön Ükhiin Ever Khöldöne—Time When Four Year-Old Cows’ Horns Freeze—began on Monday, January 18. This is supposed to be the coldest of the Nine-Nines, periods of nine days each, each period marked by some description of winter weather. On Monday, however, it was an incredibly balmy 14ºF / Minus 10ºC at three in the afternoon, probably the highest temperature of 2010. This morning things are back to normal:  Minus 33°F / -36 °C at 6:00 a.m.

This is turning out to be a Killer Winter. The UB Post:
Official figures indicate that approximately 90 percent of the country is suffering from zud  conditions, with snowfall reaching between 20-120 centimeters. The average temperature in northern Mongolia has dropped to -35 degrees Celsius, with temperatures in the rest of country ranging between-17 to -22 degrees Celsius. So far, the coldest temperature of -47 degrees was recorded in Uvs Province. As of 16 January 2010, a total of 198 sums in 19 provinces are suffering from severe weather.

According to estimates by the Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), a total of 786,639 heads of livestock have perished, 89 percent of which belong to the ten worst affected provinces. The total loss of livestock is approximately 17 per cent of the estimated 43.6 million heads of livestock in the country. Some five people died during a recent snowstorm.
Xinjiang Province of China, just south of western Mongolia, has also been hammered, According to the NYT:
Closed roads and delayed flights left thousands of travelers stranded Tuesday following blizzards and extreme cold that killed four people and affected 1.6 million others in northwestern China, a government spokesman said. Snowstorms delayed 122 flights in Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang region, on Monday, leaving more than 4,000 passengers stranded, and blocked roads from nine avalanches stranded more than 1,000 passengers in the region, according to a Urumqi government spokesman surnamed Wang. Like many Chinese officials he declined to give his full name. Four people had died because of the bad weather, Wang said Tuesday. He did not give details.Rescue workers were evacuating thousands of rural residents to safer ground at lower altitudes because of the latest storm front, expected to last through Wednesday and plunge temperatures to minus 45 degrees (minus 43 Celsius), Wang said.

In neighboring Mongolia, an official appealed for help from the international community as his country battles the most severe winter it has seen in three decades.
I have several friends in Urumqi but I have not heard from any of them for months, since internet access Remains Cut Off to Xinjiang following the Upheavals there last July. The last I heard all internet cafes were closed and all common email services like were blocked.