Heat on ahead of schedule as cold snap nears

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A cold front expected to move through most parts of China in the next nine days will lower temperatures by up to 14 degrees in some regions and bring snow and rain, according to forecasts.

Workers perform a final round of tests on heating pipes and equipment in a boiler room in Beijing on Tuesday. [China Daily]

Workers perform a final round of tests on heating pipes and equipment in a boiler room in Beijing on Tuesday. [China Daily] 

Due to the cold snap, some areas in the northern part of the country - such as Beijing, Shenyang in Liaoning province and Zhangjiakou in Hebei province - will turn on their public heating systems ahead of schedule.

In Beijing, the public heating system will start operating on Sunday, according to the Beijing Municipal Commission of City Administration and Environment.

In Shenyang, the heating system started operating on Tuesday, while in Zhangjiakou it was operating on Sunday.

Guo Weiqi, director of the heating office of the Beijing Municipal Commission of City Administration and Environment, said that his office asked heating companies to start operations ahead of schedule, to keep indoor temperatures comfortable before the sudden temperature drop in the capital.

According to the capital's meteorological bureau, the average temperature in Beijing this week is expected to range from 5 to 10 C, and it will be below 5 C from Saturday to Tuesday.

Snowfall may occur in some areas on Saturday, while the lowest temperature in Beijing will likely be below zero next week.

Central heating services, which are mainly used in North China, are generally turned on when average daily temperatures fall below 5 C for five straight days.

Sun Yuchun, the mother of a 3-year-old boy in Beijing, was excited when she heard that the heating system will be turned on ahead of schedule. She said that she had to use home heaters last week to keep indoor temperatures at an appropriate level for her son.

Temperatures plunge

Temperatures will drop in Northeast China, while rain and gales will hit Liaoning, Jilin, Heilongjiang and Guizhou provinces and the Inner Mongolia autonomous region in the next nine days, the China Meteorological Administration said on Tuesday.

Parts of Northeast China will see the first snow this year, while mild to heavy rain may hit most southern provinces and regions, including Hainan, the forecast said.

In the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, a sudden temperature drop by up to 14 degrees is forecast for Thursday.

He Lifu, chief forecaster of the China Meteorological Administration, said that most of North China will see temperatures falling gradually.

People should keep warm and wear more clothes, while children and older people should stay indoors when temperatures drop, He said.

Cold front categories

China classifies the strength of cold fronts according to five categories based on the temperature change before and after the front.

The categories are weak, medium, strong, extremely strong and cold-air outbreak, which can bring temperature drops of 6 to 10 degrees or more within two days.

Cold fronts and cold-air outbreaks, which bring temperature drops and heavy winds, usually occur in April and September in China, according to the China Meteorological Administration.

Cold fronts are seen more frequently in Xinjiang and in the northeastern parts of the country than in the southern areas.

In addition to the drop in temperatures, cold fronts can also bring complex changes in barometric pressure, wind direction, humidity and even in pollutants levels, which can affect public health.

Colds and respiratory diseases are common during front colds, with children and older people facing an increased risk of getting sick.

Dramatic temperature drops may also lead to higher death rates.

Drivers should also be aware of the possibility of icy roads due to the drop in temperatures.

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