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Northern, eastern Chinese cities in grip of heat waves
Updated: 2009-03-18 23:51

BEIJING - People in northern and eastern China are rolling up their sleeves and bringing out their summer clothes as several cities experience unusual March heat waves.

The high temperature in Beijing reached 29.2 degrees Celsius (about 85 Fahrenheit) Wednesday, the highest in 59 years.

Zhang Mingying, an expert with the Beijing Meteorological Station, said that a combination of warm air masses, adequate sunshine and calm air had driven temperatures up. The previous record high for the date was 24.4 degrees Celsius in 1950. But a bit of a chill was on the way, he said.

"A cold air mass will come into Beijing during Thursday night and lower the highs to 15-17 degrees Celsius," Zhang added.

Nearby Tianjin City recorded a high of 26 degrees Celsius Wednesday, which broke the 1963 record of 25 degrees Celsius. Local meteorologists said warm air from the south was the cause.

In the northwestern Shaanxi Province, a high of 27.2 degrees Celsius hit the capital Xi'an, the warmest in mid-March since the 1970s. "It's like summer has come," said Sun Yao, a local resident, as he ate ice cream.

Unusually high temperatures were also reported in the eastern Shandong Province, with most areas recording temperatures above 26 degrees Celsius, the local meteorological station said.

The provincial capital, Jinan, had a temperature of 30 degrees Celsius, about 3 degrees above the previous record.