Colder than average winter approaches
Around 70 percent of Mongolian territory is currently covered in snow. The Environmental Information Center (EIC) of Mongolia reports that there have been severe snow storms in rural areas in the past few weeks which resulted in a large area being covered in snow. It seems that the situation will only get worse in the coming months. Even a zud (very cold winter) is a possibility –it is signified by at least one million dead livestock.
The weather has been relatively warm for the past few days in UB, but it might be calm before the storm. The EIC reports, “In December, the weather will be colder than the annual average temperature, and snowfalls and blizzards will also be at a greater magnitude than the annual average in Mongolia. The snow that currently covers the landscape will freeze in place in the coming month [December] which means the situation for domesticated livestock in rural provinces is expected to worsen.” With the thick snow, it will be very difficult (or even impossible) for nomadic herders to send their livestock for grazing.
To make matters worse, the Mongolian nine cycles of winter (called yos, which means nine in Mongolian) are approaching, which begins in December 22. The nine cycles are nine days each, representing the winter in a series of progression of cold that continues for 81 days in total. The first four of the nineare traditionally known to be extremely cold. The strength of the cold gradually decreases after that. Citizens and officials alike, they all warn and remind us to be prepared for the rest of the winter.
UB City Mayor E. Bat-Uul recently gave the permission to UB Education Authority to extend the vacation of elementary school students from a month to 45 days due to the upcoming cold months. Ts. Otgonbagana at the UB Education Authority says that the holidays will be finalized by the Minister of Education and Science.
In the past month, because of frequent aggressive snowfalls in other provinces, there have been a number of accidents on roads. At least ten road accidents were reported in Southern Provinces, all directly resulted by bad weather – one of which had 40 people injured, 10 of them Mongolians. Earlier this month, the Erenhot Consulate (Erenhot is a Chinese border town right across from Mongolian border town Zamiin-Uud) advised not to travel to Erenhot or Beijing, due to climate. They advised not to travel by bus or car until the weather conditions improve.
To majority of sources, UB is the coldest capital city in the world, and the weather in Mongolia is generally dry and cold. In short, Mongolian weather can be characterized as “extreme,” with either very cold or snowy winters, very dusty and windy springs and very rainy or dry summers.
Whatever that may come during this winter, let’s hope that we will not lose as many livestock as we did in the 2010 winter. The people and the Government both learned a harsh lesson in 2010 winter – 8 million or 17 percent of the country’s entire livestock died, as reported by the UN. The previous record of death in livestock was in 1944, when 7 million livestock died during the winter.
Winters in Mongolia are very unique in that it has direct economic impact on the population. Livestock is a very important and high-demand food source for traditionally-nomadic and meat-consuming Mongolians. Cold weather, blizzards or “zud” can deprive the nomadic people in the steppe of their livestock or in some cases, income. This ultimately deprives the population of food.
Winter blizzards or “zud” signifies a very cold winter. There are several types of zuds, such as black, white, cold and ice. Black zud is represented by a lack of snowfall but freezing cold temperatures. The white zud is represented by heavy snowfalls which render the livestock unable to feed on otherwise accessible grass, causing famine. The cold zud is simply cold – it is so cold that the animals have to stay together inside their huts to conserve heat, rather than grazing freely. Ice zud is signified by frozen rain, which renders the animals unable to feed on grass.
It will be a cold winter, no doubt – colder than average, even a zud cannot be ruled out – preparations in every aspect should be considered.
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