With an area of 3,705,407 square miles (9,596,960 square kilometers), it follows that the climate of China is diverse and highly dependent on region. The distance between the country’s most northerly and southernly cities is further than the gap between Canada and Mexico, leaving many people wondering about the climatic conditions in China.
Apart from the warmer south and southwest of China, most of the country sees some snowfall during the winter months between December and February. During this time, some northern parts of China see snowfall of up to 3.9 inches (100mm) although most urban areas see less than an inch (25mm) at any time throughout the year.
Given its vast area and broad array of conditions, many people are interested in whether it snows in China. As you’ll see, the simple answer is yes – but only in some places.
Keep reading to find out more about snow in China.
Where is there Snowfall in China?
The conditions in China vary throughout the country, with the majority of the large nation’s snowfall seen across the northern provinces. Even in much colder regions of the country, snow is unlikely to fall from April through until mid-October – although you may still see a dusting on the tops of mountains on ranges such as the Himalayas, the Kunlun Mountains, the Tianshan Mountains, and the Hengduan Mountains.
For those regions where it does snow, here is a breakdown of the most precipitous months:
Snow in October
Based on China’s north-eastern plain, the city of Harbin begins its winter season in October with snowfall of up to 0.3 inches (10mm) throughout the course of the month. At this point, temperatures begin to drop to lows of 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius).
In the milder capital of Beijing, light dustings of up to 0.07 inches (2mm) of snow may be seen throughout October.
Snow in November
November sees Harbin’s temperature gauge drop significantly to lows of 6.8 degrees Fahrenheit (-14 degrees Celsius). With the colder weather comes up to half an inch (12.7mm) of snow throughout the month.
Beijing’s temperature also drops in November, but only to lows of 28 degrees Fahrenheit (around -2 degrees Celsius). Snowfall figures remain much the same with little more than a light dusting.
Snow in December
As snow settles in similar quantities to November across Beijing, Harbin becomes a bitterly cold winter destination at -4 degrees Fahrenheit (-20 degrees Celsius). While the ground may freeze, the snowfall levels off a little at this point with a third of an inch (8mm) falling over the course of the month.
Snow in January
Temperatures get even colder for Harbin residents during December, as the thermometers drop to an astounding low of -11.2 degrees Fahrenheit (-24 degrees Celsius). Although only a quarter of an inch (6.35mm) of snow may fall throughout the month, the snow that’s already on the ground won’t budge since the temperatures are too cold for it to thaw.
Snow in February and March
As China moves towards the spring season, temperatures begin to rise in Harbin with a little over a tenth of an inch (3mm) of snowfall across the entire month. Beijing may still see light flurries of up to 0.07 inches (2mm) – although these generally level off as March progresses.
Where does it snow in China?
Generally speaking, snow falls across much of Northern China with Harbin, Beijing, and Tianjin each seeing flurries of sleet and snow throughout the colder months. In actual fact, it may feel even colder in central regions and cities like Wuhan and Changsha, where humidity is high and buildings are not as well equipped for the colder weather.
Snow in Beijing
China’s capital city is the world’s most populous in the world with over 21 million residents – many of whom will enjoy the light dusting of snow that the city gets between November and March.
Although temperatures may drop to as low as 17.6 degrees Fahrenheit (-8 degrees Celsius) during January, the colder weather does little to bring about more snow with the total monthly figure sitting at around 0.07 inches (2mm) even at the height of winter. In contrast, Beijing sees an average of 70 days’ worth of rain each year – collecting up to 22.5 inches (571.8mm) of precipitation.
Snow in Harbin
Harbin is colloquially known as the ‘Ice City’, and with good reason. The north-eastern hub has long cold winters and shorter, cooler summers than much of China.
In January, temperatures can drop to as low as -11.2 degrees Fahrenheit (-24 degrees Fahrenheit) while several inches of snow can accumulate on the ground without much chance of thawing out.
Snow in Zhong Guo Xue Xiang ‘Home of Snow’
Known as Shuangfeng Forest Farm or simply ‘Home of Snow’, Zhong Guo Xue Xiang is China’s #1 snow town. Sitting 174 miles (284km) from Harbin, the small village can see snow of 78 inches (2000mm) accumulate as winds drive it into piles around the town.
It’s worth noting that although Zhong Guo Xue Xiang is a beautiful snowy paradise, it is very much the exception and most of China does not see snowfall on this level at any point throughout the year.
Ski Resorts in China
China is an excellent destination for skiing enthusiasts and boasts a fantastic range of scenic resorts across different parts of the country. For the most part, the best winter sports conditions can be found around Harbin, Beijing, Chengdu, and in the more remote northern regions of Inner Mongolia and Xinjiang.
The ski season generally lasts from December through to March, but it very much depends on your destination.
Yabuli Ski Resort
Situated near the north-eastern city of Harbin, Yabuli is known to be the largest and best ski resort in all of China.
With the chance to visit the Harbin ice festival during the winter, Yabuli could make for the ultimate winter holiday. The park has 5 lifts, a vertical range of half a mile (884 meters) and a great selection of different terrains for skiing enthusiasts of all abilities.
Beijing Nanshan Ski Resort
Beijing’s Nanshan ski resort is a fantastic destination for skiing and snowboarding, with 3 miles (around 5km) of slopes available and made accessible via 13 lifts.
With a vertical range of just 0.07 miles (125m) in many places, Nanshan is the perfect winter sports arena for beginners and casual skiers. It’s very central and the largest ski resort within transfer distance of Beijing.