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Bitter cold strikes Spring Festival commuters | Updated: 2013-02-07 17:32

BEIJING - A strong cold front will bring heavy rain and snow to south China, sending temperatures plummeting amid the Spring Festival holiday, meteorological authorities said Thursday.

The National Meteorological Center (NMC) issued a blue blizzard alert earlier this morning.

Blue is the lowest level in China's four-tier color-coded weather alert system.

Bitter cold strikes Spring Festival commuters

Icicles could be seen at a dock on Dongpaotai Coast in Yantai city, East China's Shandong province, Feb 7, 2013. Weather alerts have been issued across China as a cold snap caused a dramatic drop in temperature across many areas. The Inner Mongolia autonomous region, as well as the provinces of Liaoning, Jilin and Shandong all witnessed cold weather, strong winds and snow, bringing misery and traffic problems to local residents. Shandong provincial meteorological observatory has issued warnings for cold weather, icy roads and strong sea winds. [Photo/Xinhua]

The cold spell has dramatically lowered temperatures in Inner Mongolia autonomous region, as well as the provinces of Liaoning, Jilin and Shandong.

Temperatures went down by six to 10 degrees Celsius on average, with the worst hit regions seeing temperature drops of 12 to 14 degrees Celsius this morning, the NMC said.

As the cold front is moving south, China's southern regions will also catch some of the harsh weather. The southeast part of northwest China, the plains of Huanghuai, Jianghan and Jianghuai, regions south of the Yangtze River, south China and southwest China are expected to see temperatures drop by six to 10 degrees Celsius over the coming two days, according to the weather agency.

Strong winds will sweep some areas in Inner Mongolia, the plains of Huanghuai and Jianghuai and regions south of the Yangtze River during the same period.

Meanwhile, heavy snow is expected to fall in the provinces of Hubei, Anhui, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Jiangxi, Hunan and the municipality of Shanghai starting from Wednesday afternoon, with blizzards hitting the southern part of Anhui and northwest Zhejiang.

Some areas in Jiangxi, Hunan and Guizhou provinces will see sleet on Thursday, the NMC said.

The Spring Festival holiday, which begins on February 9 this year, brings with it a massive travel rush, as millions of Chinese return to their hometowns to see their relatives.

The NMC said travelers should brace for bad weather and arrange their travel accordingly.

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