A heavy thunderstorm hit Beijing yesterday, delaying hundreds of flights at the Capital International Airport and snarling traffic across the city.
Early yesterday morning, this summer's heaviest fog surrounded Beijing. At 6 am, visibility was about 250 meters in urban areas of the capital city.
The fog was followed by a severe rainstorm from 9:00 to 10:30 am, temporarily closing runways at the Beijing Capital International Airport.
More than 300 scheduled flights were delayed by noon, China Central Television reported.
The expressway connecting urban Beijing and the airport was also affected by the rainstorm, as standing water caused serious traffic congestion that lasted into the afternoon.
A Beijing resident surnamed Pei was caught in the traffic jam yesterday afternoon when he went to the airport to see his friends off.
"We saw cars jammed on the expressway and they did not move at all," he said. "So we chose another path besides the expressway. But it was still too jammed.
"Finally my friends and I had to take all of our luggage out of the car and walk to the airport. It took us more than two hours to cover the 30 kilometers from hotel to the airport because of the traffic congestion."
Also because of the heavy storm, flights at seven other airports in Tianjin, Shenyang, Dalian, Shijiazhuang, Taiyuan, Xi'an and Chengdu were also delayed.
Many streets and intersections in urban Beijing gathered large amounts of water yesterday morning.
Engines of many cars went dead under the Mingguang interchange. The cars stopped there in water to leave traffic at a standstill.
By 10:00 am, nearly 360 traffic accidents and nearly 160 traffic congestions were reported, according to sources with the Beijing Traffic Management Bureau.
The bureau adopted various measures yesterday morning to direct traffic.
The eastern section of the Sixth Ring Road was closed early yesterday morning because of the heavy fog, and local residents were advised not to drive cars by themselves but to take buses and subway trains.
No economic losses or casualties were reported in Beijing yesterday.
North China, including Beijing and Tianjin, Northwest China, Northeast China and areas along the Yellow and the Huaihe rivers are all forecasted to witness heavy rain in the following three days.
(China Daily August 1, 2006)