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May 24, 2011

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So, could it be autumn already?

IS it autumn already? Have we bid farewell to the shortest summer in Shanghai's history?

Those were the questions circulating online yesterday as critics lined up to mock the city weather bureau's formula used to announce the changing seasons.

Due to the latest cold snap and the rain, temperatures dropped sharply over the weekend with a low of around 15 degrees Celsius and highs below 20. The cool conditions are expected to last throughout this week, the Shanghai Meteorological Bureau said.

With autumn usually announced after five consecutive days of temperatures below 22 degrees, many online comments said that must mean autumn will arrive this week.

But, no, weather officials hastily protested yesterday, the five-day rule in relation to autumn shouldn't apply before li qiu, or beginning of autumn, the 13th of the 24 solar terms in the Chinese lunar calendar which this year falls on August 8.

"Since May 21, Shanghai will soon experience five consecutive days with the average below 22, and the city is entering autumn, says the Shanghai Meteorological Bureau," was one posting on yesterday. "We only had eight days of summer, which will be the shortest one in history."

The post had been retweeted almost 2,000 times by last night.

Zhang Ruiyi, a chief weather service officer, said the bureau never predicts seasons but only announces them after they have arrived. The five-day rule was just one standard used to determine changing seasons, Zheang said.

People should pay more attention to the daily weather forecasts, Zhang said.

"The large temperature difference among the days just happens," Zhang said yesterday. "Never be confused by the readings of the previous day."

However, the drop in temperatures was rare for this time of the year, so soon after summer arrived on May 13.

Yesterday's temperature reached just 17 degrees Celsius and was the lowest high in the second half of May since 1991, said Man Liping, another of the bureau's chief service officers.

Temperatures will climb slowly over the next few days but should stay below 30 degrees until next week, according to the bureau.


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