Monday, August 15, 2011

Mandarin Mondays: 天气

Something that a lot of people seem curious about is what the weather (tiān qì, 天气) is like here in Kunming (昆明). Kunming's weather is one of the mildest climates around. It is far enough south that it rarely gets too cold (tài lěng, 太冷), and its high altitude (1,900 m above sea level) keeps it from getting very hot (hěn rè, 很热). In fact, it is often called the "Spring City" or the "Green City" because of its mild weather and lush vegetation.

Right now in summer (xià tiān, 夏天), it is warm, not hot, with average highs about 75 F and average lows about 62 F. Summer is the rainy season, and it does rain a lot: 7–8 inches a month on average. It can get quite chilly here when it rains (yǔ, ). In fact they have a saying here: "It's winter when it rains." But it warms back up when the sun shines, and this keeps it from ever getting too hot here. Apparently the record high was 90 F.

The rains begin to taper off in September (jiǔ yuè, ). September (jiǔ yuè, ) and October (shí yuè, 十月) are supposed to be still very nice with most days still in the low 70s. Fall (qiū tiān, 秋天) is very mild here.

In November (shí yī yuè, 十一月), the average highs begin to drop to the 60's, and the rains slow to almost nothing. In winter (dōng tiān, 冬天), the average highs are about 60 F, and the average lows about 36 F. The weather can be a little crazy at times, and occasionally there are freak snows (xià xuě, 下). We actually experienced one in March (sān yuè, 三月), but this is quite rare. The record low was 18 F.

In spring (chūn tiān, 春天), the temperature climbs back up to 70–75 F for highs and 45–60 F for lows. Usually in May (wǔ yuè, 五月), the rains begin again.

This climate is great for agriculture and gardening. Kunming is famous for it's horticulture. It produces a lot of different fruits (shuǐ guǒ, 水果) and vegetables (shū cài, 蔬菜), and much of China's flowers (huā, ) are exported from this area.

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