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Blizzard alert issued for several regions

By Li Hongyang | China Daily | Updated: 2023-12-11 22:44
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Visitors take photos of a snow-capped turret at the Palace Museum in Beijing on Monday. The Chinese capital received its first snowfall this winter early on Monday. [Photo by Li Xin / Xinhua]

Snow: Transportation, water supply services face pressure

China's northern and central regions are experiencing heavy snowfall and plummeting temperatures, which are posing serious challenges for public transportation and water supply services, and have prompted many schools to suspend classes.

The National Meteorological Center on Monday renewed its blue warning — the lowest level of alert in a four-tier system — for cold waves across the country.

From Wednesday through Friday, blizzards are forecast in Shanxi, Shaanxi and Henan provinces, with some areas expected to see more than 10 centimeters of snow cover on Sunday, the center said.

The weather will bring a significant drop in temperatures across several regions, including Northwest and Southwest China and parts of South China. Some areas may see temperatures plummet by more than 14 C.

Beijing's first snowfall this winter arrived early on Monday, covering the Chinese capital in a mantle of white overnight and plunging the city into freezing temperatures, with even colder weather looming this week.

The city typically sees its first snow of the season between late November and February. More snowfall is expected this week, with temperatures forecast to plummet as low as -20 C.

The Chinese capital last saw similarly frigid weather on Jan 7, 2021, when the mercury dropped to -19.6 C. Beijing's all-time low of -27.4 C — a record set on Feb 22, 1966 — remains unbroken.

On Monday, Beijing's weather bureau warned of road icing in large parts of the city, with authorities restricting traffic on some expressways or partially closing sections.

By 10 am, more than 60 flights had been canceled at the Beijing Capital International Airport. Railway authorities enforced speed limits on lines connecting Beijing and Guangzhou, Guangdong province, causing delays in train arrival and departure schedules. Services on more than 180 bus routes in the city were also suspended in the morning.

Beijing's subway ran additional trains during peak hours on Monday, and extend the duration of its services on urban lines by 40 minutes and on suburban lines by one hour in anticipation of traffic disruptions caused by the heavy snowfall.

In Central China's Henan province, schools suspended classes for the day in the provincial capital of Zhengzhou, which recorded 14.2 millimeters of precipitation with a snow depth of 10 cm, as well as in Anyang.

Lyu Xiaona, chief forecaster at the provincial meteorological office, warned of road icing, frozen power lines, low temperatures and strong winds. "Henan was expected to see two rounds of snowfall. The first spell happened on Sunday. The second is expected to start on Tuesday night," Lyu said.

In Jinan, the capital of East China's Shandong province, authorities issued an advisory recommending off-peak working schedule to alleviate traffic pressure on the roads. Government departments and other organizations were urged to implement flexible working hours, except for essential services. Many schools held classes online on Monday.

Northeast China's Heilongjiang province was hit particularly hard over the weekend, with temperatures dropping between -25 C and -30 C in some areas on Sunday. The frigid weather is expected to last the whole week.

Plummeting temperatures are posing serious challenges to water supply services. Emergency repair teams have been dispatched to areas where water pipes have been reported frozen, according to state broadcaster China Central Television.

In North China's Shanxi province, heavy snowfall and low temperatures have disrupted public transportation services. Special traffic control measures have been implemented on highways covered in snow, CCTV reported.

Xinhua contributed to this story.

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