The capital city of northeast China's Heilongjiang Province was hit by the biggest snowstorm of the year on Tuesday, with roads and air traffic disrupted and schools closed.
Meteorological authorities in Harbin issued the first snowstorm red alert of this year early Tuesday morning, saying the snow would continue with precipitation of 15 millimeters over six hours.
Yuan Meiying, chief weather forecaster with the provincial meteorological station, said the snowstorm starting Monday had hit 17 counties and cities in the province.
Harbin was among the worst hit, with 28 millimeters of precipitation falling from 8 a.m. Monday to 8 a.m Tuesday.
The municipal education bureau issued an urgent notice on Tuesday morning ordering the closure of primary and middle schools for Wednesday. However, many schools in Harbin had already closed voluntarily Tuesday morning.
"So far, only schools in Harbin were closed. The provincial education bureau has allowed storm-hit cities like Jiamusi, Suihua, Hegang and Yichun to make an independent decision about canceling classes if necessary," said Han Yanping, an official with the provincial education bureau.
Schools in rural areas should pay closer attention to prevent houses from collapsing and students from getting trapped in ditches, he said.