Last year Vietnam experienced the harshest weather conditions in five decades, climatologists told a recent seminar in Ho Chi Minh City.

Bui Minh Tang, Director of the National Hydro Meteorological Forecasting Centre, said that in 2013 the number of storms and tropical low pressure areas entering the East Sea and hitting Vietnam was the highest in 50 years.

The number of storms hitting the country was equal to that in 1964 - 15.

Typhoon Haiyan, which slammed Vietnam last year, was the most powerful ever.

Snowfall in Lao Cai, Dong Van and Ha Giang in December was also reported to be the heaviest in 50 years.

Unusually, a severe cold snap which hit the north in December lasted all of 18 days.

Typhoon Podul brought heavy rain to the central region, dumping 661mm on November 15, the highest ever in a single day. The previous record was 515mm on November 12, 1938.

Summer was unusually hot in the northern region with temperatures soaring to 40 – 42 degrees Celsius.

Hail has been a frequent occurrence over recent years. Recently a severe hailstorm, described as the worst in history, panicked people in Lao Cai and swept away 12,000 roofs.

Luu Minh Hai, Director of the Lao Cai Province Hydro Meteorological Forecasting Centre, said the cold killed 50,000 cattle in the northern region, adding he had never seen such a ferocious hailstorm as the one that hit Lao Cai last year.

The changing weather patterns were being caused by the impact of climate change, experts said.-VNA