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Snowfall shuts airports, highways
By Cao Desheng (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-12-22 22:57

A heavy snowfall that began to sweep across northern, central and eastern China on Tuesday shut down airports, cut transportation routes and slowed traffic in the capital.

Vehicles are busy melting the snow piled on course of the Beijing Capital Airport. [newsphoto]
At least 10 airports in Shanxi, Hebei, Shandong, Henan and Jiangsu provinces and the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region shut down due to the weather, said sources from the General Administration of Civil Aviation of China (CAAC).

Around 10,000 passengers had to stay at the Beijing Capital International Airport as the heaviest snowfall this year hit at 2:00 am yesterday and delayed more than 80 flights.

The delayed flights gradually resumed operations in the afternoon when the snow became light.

In Shenyang, Liaoning Province, the mercury dipped down to -28 C. The freezing weather left cars broken down and stranded on the side of the road.

More than 500 trucks carrying coal from Qinyang in North China's Shanxi Province were stuck on the icy roads yesterday while another 7,000 had to suspend their services, reducing coal transports by about 100,000 tons.

At the same time, the price of vegetables in Xi'an, capital of Northwest China's Shaanxi Province rose slightly due to transportation difficulties.

A vehicle removes snow from tarmac and runway at the Beijing Capital International airport December 22, 2004. More than 10,000 passengers at the airport were affected due to flight delays and cancellations. The heavy snowfall that began to sweep across northern, central and eastern China Tuesday night temporarily shut down airports, cut transportation routes and slowed traffic in the capital. [newsphoto]
Gift to farmers

However, the snowfall will be a gift for the farmers in East China's Anhui Province, where the winter wheat was growing too fast due to an unusually warm winter.

Experts say the heavy snow will help hold back the crop's rampant growth and might bring about a better harvest next year.

For those longing for a white Christmas, the snowfall helped them realize their cherished dream.

Boys and girls in Beijing availed of the opportunity to enjoy a light moment by taking photos or playing snowball games in schoolyards.

While enjoying the beautiful landscape and fresh air brought about by the snowfall, Beijing residents also had to contend with slow rush hour traffic.

Thanks to the timely emergency plan launched by the city's traffic management and public sanitation departments, the traffic conditions -- that have been a headache for local people -- did not slow down to a standstill as they did three years ago but both cars and bicycles moves slowly through the roads.

A total of 3,000 tons of chemicals were used to melt the accumulated snow, said Wu Fanxiu, an official from the Beijing Transportation management Bureau.

The China Meteorological Observatory forecast that, in the coming two days, most parts of North China, northern parts of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and parts of Anhui and Jiangsu provinces as well as east parts of the Tibet Autonomous Region will continue to be hit by snowy weather.

Coming precipitation may bring some troubles to traffic in northern China and the Yellow and Huaihe river valleys, but it will help relieve the drought in these regions, an engineer with the China Meteorological Observatory told China Daily.

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