The worst winter weather to hit central, eastern and southern
China in decades could persist into the Year of the Rat, weather
Ice and frost cover road signs and shrubs beside the Beijing-Zhuhai
Expressway in Shaoguan, South China's Guangdong Province, February
2, 2008. [Xinhua]
The severe weather, which has killed at least 60 Chinese and
left millions of people facing a cold, dark Lunar New Year holiday,
could last until February 9, according to the latest forecasts from
the Central Meteorological Station on Saturday.
It said heavy snow would continue on Saturday in the province of
Hunan and in Jiangxi, Anhui, Jiangsu, Shanghai and Zhejiang to the
east. A new round of snow is likely to fall on Monday and
In Zhejiang, a snowstorm that began in the early hours of Friday
has lasted 30 hours, causing accumulations in many areas to reach
By midday on Saturday, snowfall had reached 31 centimeters in
the provincial capital, Hangzhou. That broke the all-time record of
29 cm, according to the provincial meteorological station. Snow
drifts in 11 other parts of the province also equaled or broke
records, said the station's deputy chief, Pan Jinsong.
Nearly 300 urban parks out of 940 in Zhejiang were closed due to
Thousands of troops, armed police, residents and volunteers
began to clear snow on the main roads early on Saturday as
forecasters warned of road ice early on Sunday.
Xiaoshan International Airport in Hangzhou has been closed since
5 pm Friday and 5,000 passengers were delayed. Snow on the runway
measured an average of 20 cm on Saturday morning.
Warmer temperatures are also unlikely even after the snow begins
to end around February 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 will have to watch out for road mishaps,
floods and other problems."
The winter weather has hit 19 provinces and regions and the
Xinjiang Production and Construction Corp, toppled 223,000 houses
and damaged another 862,000, said the Ministry of Civil
Experts said the cold, snowy spell had displaced the 1998
Yangtze River flood as the largest natural disaster in decades.
That flood affected 2.3 million people.
The Ministry of Civil Affairs said on Friday the snow had caused
60 deaths as of January 31, but the toll was rising daily.
The roof of a vegetable wholesale market in Nanchang, in the
eastern province of Jiangxi, collapsed early on Tuesday under the
weight of snow and ice, killing one person and injuring 37.
On Friday, two patrolmen, Wang Guojie and Lin Shengqiao, died
after their vehicle slid off an icy 30 meter cliff in Yongjia
County in Zhejiang Province.
Shanghai posted a rare yellow snowstorm alert on Friday. By
Saturday morning, it had received 15 cm of snow. In the suburban
districts of Qingpu and Jiading, as well as Chongming County, the
snow had reached 22 cm by noon.
The weather forced the Shanghai port at the mouth of the Yangtze
River to close at 1 am on Saturday. The move stranded more than
1,000 ships and cancelled the departure of 200.
Ice on runways and aircraft almost closed Shanghai's two
international airports on Saturday morning. By noon, only 15 of 127
scheduled departing flights had left Pudong Airport. Hongqiao
Airport reported 16 landings and 41 take-offs out of 525 scheduled
departures and arrivals.
Airport authorities said 13 domestic flights were canceled.
In Guangzhou, capital of Guangzhou Province, more than 160
flights scheduled to depart on Saturday from Baiyun Airport, were
cancelled or delayed, affecting more than 12,000 passengers.
Many of the air passengers rushed to railway and bus stations
hoping to get lucky. Mre than 78,000 passengers had taken trains or
buses for the Spring Festival's family get-together.
To ease transport pressure, the local government called for
migrant workers in Guangzhou not to return home and instead observe
the Spring Festival in the province. So far, more than 2.2 million
migrants have agreed to stay behind while another 4.1 million
insisted on going home.
In Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, 25,000 motor vehicles were
jammed along a 100-kilometer stretch of highway in Hezhou City.
"Traffic police are making full effort there to ensure safety of
the thousands of passengers and drivers on the road," local
transport officials said.
A week after a snow cut off power in central Hunan Province,
traffic on the key Beijing-Guangzhou railway line had yet to return
to normal. At least 240,000 passengers were still stranded at the
Guangzhou Railway Station on Friday and 5,300 police -- a sixth of
the city's force -- had been sent to maintain order.
In Hunan, where at least 20,000 electricians were working around
the clock to repair the grid, the long blackout might soon end.
The State Grid of China said power could be partially restored
on Saturday in Chenzhou, a city of 4 million that was one of the
hardest-hit areas. About 5,000 utility workers were on duty
In Hengyang, a city of 1 million people about 100 km from
Chenzhou, residents welcomed back electricity and water supplies on
Many households had run out of food and drinking water over the
past week. Some had to fetch water from Xiangjiang River for
drinking and flush toilets with snow water.
(Xinhua News Agency February 3, 2008)