A snow sweeper clears snow at the Capital International Airport in Beijing January 3, 2010. [Photo/Xinhua]
Heavy snow hit Beijing on Sunday to close expressways, delay flights and disrupt bus services.
As of 10 a.m., 120 outbound flights, including both domestic and international ones, had been delayed at the Beijing Capital International Airport and 86 flights were canceled. Only one of the three runways at the airport remained open, according to the airport management.
Snow blanketed roads in the city and temperature was expected to touch lows of minus 10 degrees Celsius Sunday, according to the Central Meteorological Station.
A man takes photos for a child besides a snowman amid heavy snow in Beijing in the morning January 3, 2010. This is the second snow in the capital. Other regions including Inner Mongolia, Hebei, Tianjin and Shandong would also expect heavy snow Sunday, the Central Meteorological Station forecast. [Photo/Xinhua]
After the snowfall on Sunday, the temperature would plummet by 7 to 8 degrees to minus 16 degree Celsius in the next three days, which would be the lowest since 1980s.
Airport operation in Tianjin Municipality, Shijiazhuang and Hohhot were also affected by the heavy snow.
The Beijing Traffic Management Bureau said that expressways linking Beijing to neighboring Hebei Province and Tianjin were closed due to snow and ice on the road surface, but the highway to the Beijing Capital International Airport remained open.
The traffic bureau of Beijing said that 60 bus routes were affected by snow, including service suspension on 47 routes to rural areas.
"Luckily, we are still in the New Year holiday. More people could be affected tomorrow," said Liu Juan, a local resident, who went out to enjoy the snow view.
Zhang Zhiqiang, an official in charge of road cleaning in the Beijing Environment and Sanitation Engineering Group Co. Ltd., said 960 workers and 193 snow-clearing vehicles had been working for more than 12 hours to ensure traffic in the city's main roads.
He said 2,175 tons of snow-thawing agents had been used on roads.
It was the second snowfall in the three-day New Year holiday. The city's meteorological bureau upgraded the snowstorm alert from blue to yellow at 8:50 a.m. Sunday.
"The yellow alert means that the snowfall is going to turn heavier to above 6 millimeters in the next 12 hours," said Guo Hu, the bureau chief.
He said that the northern part of Beijing received the most snowfall, or 12.6 millimeters by Sunday morning. The average snowfall in the city proper reached 4.8 millimeters.