Falling snow covers residence buildings in Beijing November 10, 2009. Four to 7 centimeters of snow is expected in the next four days with a temperature drop of over 10 C. [CFP]
BEIJING: Heavy snow blanketed Beijing and other parts of north China Tuesday, causing air travel delays and highway closures.
The snow fell amid lightning and thunder in the capital from late Monday to early Tuesday, making it the second snowfall in eight days.
"The occurrence was rather unusual and rare for early November," Sun Jisong, chief forecaster of the Beijing Meteorological Bureau. "More snow is forecast to hit Beijing on Wednesday and Thursday."
Haidian District in northwest Beijing has recorded 18.5 mm of snowfall, the heaviest in the city, according to the China Meteorological Administration.
Snowfall at the Beijing Capital International Airport was 15 mm. As of 8 am, 68 flights had been canceled and 33 others delayed.
The snow brought traffic to a crawl in the morning rush hour, but the municipal transport authorities used more than 6,000 tonnes of thawing agents to clear the roads to ease the congestion.
The Beijing Traffic Management Bureau dispatched about 3,800 police officers to direct traffic at the main roads.
Three highways were partly closed for several hours before being reopened by 11 am and 117 cross-provincial bus services were canceled.
Bicycles are seen covered with snow in a residence community in Beijing November 10, 2009. Four to 7 centimeters of snow is expected in the next four days with a temperature drop of over 10 C. [CFP]
Snow also hit Tianjin Municipality and Hebei, Shanxi, Ningxia and Xinjiang Tuesday.
Taiyuan airport, in Shanxi, was closed Tuesday morning, leaving almost 1,000 passengers stranded.
All highways in Shanxi were closed, the provincial transport bureau said. It gave no timetable for reopening as the snow was to last till Thursday.
The heaviest snow in 22 years hit Hebei. The snow has accumulated to as deep as 37 cm in some parts of the province, said a spokesman with the provincial meteorological bureau.
The spokesman forecasted that the temperature will drop to minus 15 to minus 17 degrees Celsius.
The drastic temperature drop will harm the province's 2.4 million hectares of wheat, said Zhang Wenzong, director of Hebei Agri-Meteorological Center.