China's worst winter weather in five decades will continue over the next three days, the China Meteorological Administration (CMA) said on Wednesday.
Heavy snow and sleet has paralyzed transport and coal shipments, and led to travelers cramming railway stations and airports. Power supply has been reduced in almost half of the 31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities on the Chinese mainland.
The havoc was chiefly caused by the long-lasting sleet, which resulted from warm and cold air currents clashing over south China, said CMA spokesperson Jiao Meiyan at a news conference in Beijing.
The CMA was advising those in affected areas to stay home and reduce energy consumption during the holiday period of the upcoming Chinese Lunar New Year, or Spring Festival.
Over the next 10 days, the southwestern, eastern and southern regions will get more snow and sleet with freezing temperatures while the country's north will stay clear but windy, the CMA said.
The snow struck as tens of millions began to head home to celebrate the major Chinese holiday starting Feb. 7, straining rail, air and road transport services as well as shipping.
Crops in northern China may benefit from the abundant water and snow fall, while cash crops such as rape may suffer a poor harvest in the abnormally cold southern region, said Jiao.
CMA experts suggested the central government should collect its strength to enhance construction of weather monitoring infrastructure, intensify cooperation between weather-related departments, and improve weather forecast veracity levels.
According to Yu Xinwen, the CMA office head, China is planning to channel 1.96 billion yuan (272.4 million U.S. dollars) to improve its weather forecasting work in the next few years. The preliminary plan has already been proved by the State Council, China's cabinet.
(Xinhua News Agency January 30, 2008)