Last week, Beijing's weather was very clear and very, very cold. Both conditions were thanks to some enormous howling Siberian gelid-air mass that made its way down from the dreaded boreal land of snow. For a reminder of how things can look when clear, try here.

Today temperatures are moderating, which means that the northern wind is not there to do its brutally cleansing work. Ten am, December 8, 2008.

Some of this could be cloud, although air-quality readings the last two days have been bad. Here's hoping a lot is cloud!