Rain, snow hit drought-plagued N.China

Updated: 2007-03-04 11:12

A moderate rain and snow began to hit most parts of drought-plagued north China on Saturday as farmers and authorities have been struggling against the drought that has affected millions of hectares of croplands and caused drinking water shortages.

Traffic slows down at Tiananmen Square in downtown Beijing on Saturday, March 3, 2007. The heaviest rain so far this year hit Beijing early on the day. [Xinhua]

Chinese capital Beijing experienced rain and snow of 21 to 32 millimeters Saturday and Sunday, with a maximum of 41 millimeters in Haidian District, according to the Beijing Meteorological Observatory.

"The rainfall on Saturday surpassed the total rainfall in this city in the past three months," said Guo Hu, director of the observatory.

The snow in Beijing which began on Saturday night, would not cause much trouble to traffic because of a comparatively high ground temperature, the observatory said.

The rainfall also hit most parts of other provinces in north China such as northwestern Ningxia and eastern Shandong, where people had been struggling to fight against a severe drought since last winter.

Farmers in the southwest of Shandong welcomed a moderate rain which lasted a whole day on Saturday, which was also the first significant rainfall for crops since last winter.

Rain and snow began to hit northwest China's Ningxia region on Friday evening, with the maximum of 13 millimeters reported in Yinchuan, the regional capital.

The rainy and snowy weather was conducive to alleviating the drought in the central part of the region, said meteorologists of the region.

About 40,000 passengers and 10,000 drivers were stranded in Erdos city in Inner Mongolia, which saw a blizzard on Saturday with a maximum snowfall of up to 20 centimeters.

Most parts of the city experienced a 24-hour snowfall which began on Friday evening, with an average of 16 centimeters, the city's meteorologists said.

The city, a major coal production base in the region, had to shut down many sections of highways due to the snow. It has only two trains out each day and mainly relies on highway transport.

The Baita Airport in Hohhot, capital of Inner Mongolia, had to be shut down between 6 p.m. Saturday and 6 a.m. Sunday due to the heavy snow.

The central meteorological observatory forecast that rainfall would continue to hit most parts of north China in the next two days.

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