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Cycle of unusual cold weather descends on Northern region

Update: January, 21/2012 - 08:59

HA NOI — The northern region of Viet Nam has been experiencing an unusual winter, allegedly a result of La Nina, experts say.

The first strong cold spell of this winter hit the northern region around the same time it did 14 years ago.

Normally, the region experiences its first strong cold spell in late December, mostly around December 25 or 26. Meanwhile, this winter, December 10 marked the first day of the spell, one week earlier than 2010. Moreover, the region has experienced three cold spells so far.

Vice director of northern Lao Cai Province's Centre for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting, Luu Minh Hai said that early and dense cold spells proved strange.

Moreover, three rainfalls have already poured down the region, causing unexpected floods since the beginning of winter, normally a dry period.

Late November, heavy winter rains were seen in the northern provinces of Yen Bai and Lao Cai. For example, 82.2 mm of rain fell in Yen Bai City, 103.4 mm in Lao Cai City and 164.6 mm in Bao Thang District.

The second spell was early this month and the third in the middle of this month, causing rain in almost all northern provinces including Yen Bai, Tuyen Quang, Bac Can, Ha Giang and Lao Cai with average rainfall of 25-35 mm.

Vice director Hai said that unexpected rain fell in Lao Cai Province's springs and rivers. The part of the Red River running through the locality had water levels of 77.15 metres, meaning 1.15 metres within the flood water level during flood season.

He said that it was the first time a flood was recorded in the winter in the locality.

Experts said that the strange weather might be the result of La Nina – or "girl child," is the counterpart of El Nino, or "boy child". Together they comprise a pendular swing of extreme weather that affects the Pacific Rim, but can be disruptive as far as the coast of southern Africa.

However, they have yet to explain why the cold phase of La Nina has been reactivated as early as it has.

The fourth cold spell is reaching the northern region tomorrow, causing rain and winds of level 6 to 8, according to the National Centre for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting.

It will be colder starting on January 23, or the first day of the lunar new year, and the cold spell is predicted to last for the 5-7 days, bringing a cold Tet (Lunar New year) holiday to the region. — VNS

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