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Peasoup dips over nation while snow's on the way
(China Daily/Xinhua)
Updated: 2004-12-01 23:32

It was one of those winter mornings when the residents in most parts of China got up and found the world shrouded in a milky blanket.

Xiao Yin, an office worker in the Chinese capital, waited at a bus station as the crisp air nipped at her neck and ears, said she was late for work.

"Mother Nature slowed the traffic and I cannot blame her," she said of the foggy day that met her eyes.

The nation's weather service said the fog, the largest to hit this winter, visited most regions of the southern areas of the Yangtze River, Southwest China,and North China yesterday.

Meteorological experts said those areas will stay in its spidery embrace for another two days because of a lack of cold currents.

Yang Keming, a senior engineer with China Central Meteorological Observatory, said that North China should experience another heavy foggy morning today.

The scale of the fog should be somewhat less tomorrow, while the attack of a cold front on Friday will bring snow and wind, which will send the fog packing, he added.

Fog, comprised of tiny water droplets suspended in the air, largely was due to warm and wet air currents from the eastern parts of Tibet Plateau to northern and eastern parts of the country, Yang said.

It is likely to bring a flurry of traffic accidents, and officials with the transportation authority warned drivers to make sure their vehicles are road worthy and those behind the wheel are taking basic safety precautions.

Yesterday's fog also disrupted air and road traffic.

Thousands of travelers were delayed on flights held back at the airport and expressways were shut down.

Yang Guoping, an official with Beijing Transportation Management Bureau said the city temporarily shut down certain sections of five expressways early yesterday.

Three highways were back to normal before noon, he said.

Foggy inversions such as yesterday's also keep floating particles enveloped in the atmosphere, making it difficult for those with respiratory problems to breathe.

Local residents said the weather seemed much more wintry in the past week, with temperature dropping below breezing though the average temperature was still one or two degrees higher than historically recorded.

Forecasters say that China is headed into its 18th so-called "warm" winter, though meteorologists cite the Tibet Autonomous Region as the one exception.

Most parts of Tibet have reported an average temperature drop from last year of one to two degrees C during October and November, apparent signs for a colder winter, said Purbu Zhoema, a senior engineer and chief forecaster with the regional meteorological bureau.

Affected by cold currents from the north, the regional capital Lhasa welcomed this winter's very first snowfall on November 24. It lasted for five straight hours, from midnight to daybreak.

Prior to Lhasa's snowfall, many parts of Tibet embraced heavy snow or rain measuring more than 100 millimeters early in October, which had come as a surprise on the "roof of the world." That's because the region had reported sustained temperature rises in the past four years.

Purbu Zhoema enumerated a host of reasons for this year's climate changes.

"Rising ocean temperatures and the El Nino are all related to such changes," she said, noting that most parts of Tibet will experience further temperature declines in the months ahead, particularly along the Yarlung Zangbo River, which rises on the Gyaimayangzon Glacier. It is on the northern slope of the Himalayas and runs 2,960 kilometres, 2,057 kilometers of which are in Tibet.

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