Strong cold fronts swept across most parts of the country, causing heavy snowfall in some areas and plunging the mercury on winter solstice day Sunday.
Local residents wait for buses on a snow-covered street in Yantai, east China’s Shandong province, December 21, 2008. [Xinhua]
Strong cold fronts from Siberia and Mongolia brought snowstorms to East China and abnormally cold temperatures to North China.
Over the weekend, the China Meteorological Administration (CMA) issued a strong cold wave warning, saying temperatures would drop 8-14 C in most parts of the country in the next two days and asking local officials to prepare for emergencies.
Beijing got a real taste of winter with strong winds lashing the city on Saturday night. The northern part of the capital experienced slight snowfall as the temperature dropped 5 to 10 C, said Zhou Xiaoping, of the Beijing Meteorological Observatory.
"Beijing is expected to see its coldest day this winter on Monday morning when the mercury would drop to -12 C," Zhou said.
"The mercury will gradually rise over the next two days as the wind weakens, but the weather will remain dry because no snow has been forecast (in the next few days)," she said.
The highest day temperature yesterday was -8 C, the lowest in December since 1951, she said. It is expected to rise to 1 C today.
The low temperature and strong gusts of wind forced many small shops to down shutters and drove vendors off the roads in Beijing, and snow and gale forced the closure of expressways in some areas.
A bike-repairer surnamed Yang in Beijing's Chaoyang district said he had closed his shop because it was "too cold for business". The 60-year-old said: "I have not seen such a cold day in almost a decade."
Shandong province was lashed by heavy snow, causing a 12-C drop in temperature. The coastal city of Yantai was among the worst hit, getting 5 mm of snow, with some areas getting up to 10 mm.
All flights to and from Qingdao were canceled yesterday morning, leaving thousands of passengers stranded.
The Inner Mongolia autonomous region received snow, too, with Gansu province being hardly hit by sandstorms, CMA officials said,
The strongest cold front this season would disrupt normal life till today, with gales expected to sweep across eastern and northwestern areas and the southern coast.
The extreme cold weather warning was the second this winter. The first was issued for Dec 1-4, when heavy snow disrupted road transport and work at docks and airports.