The worst winter weather to hit central, eastern and southern China in decades could persist into the Year of the Rat, weather officials said.
The severe weather, which has killed at least 60 people and left millions facing a cold, dark Lunar New Year holiday, could last till February 8 or 9, according to the latest forecasts from the Central Meteorological Station on Saturday morning.
Residents walk in the snow along the pavement in Hangzhou, capital of east China's Zhejiang Province, on February 1, 2008. The city suffered another round of strong snowfall causing inconvenience of daily life.
It said that heavy snow would continue on Saturday in the central province of Hunan and in Jiangxi, Anhui, Jiangsu, Shanghaiand Zhejiang to the east. A new round of snow was likely to fall on Monday and Tuesday.
Much-needed warmer temperatures were unlikely even after the snow began to end around Feb. 8, chief weatherman Yang Guiming warned.
"In many provinces, roads will remain icy, and it takes time to return to warm temperatures," he said. "When it gets warm and the ice and snow melt, we have to watch out for road mishaps, floods and other problems."
Experts said that the snow disaster had displaced the 1998 Yangtze River flood as the largest natural disaster in decades. The 1998 flood affected 2.3 million people.
Zhejiang Province had received at least 10 cm of snowfall by Friday night. Airports in Hangzhou and Ningbo were closed and the freeways were open only to trucks carrying relief materials.
For the first time in 135 years, Shanghai posted a yellow snowstorm alert on Friday. By Saturday morning, it had received 15cm of snow.
Affected by the weather, the Shanghai port at the mouth of the Yangtze River was closed as of 1:00 AM Saturday. The move stranded more than 1,000 ships and cancelled the departures of 200.
(Xinhua News Agency February 2, 2008)