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China issues weather warnings as temperatures plunge

February 21, 2024

Severe weather alerts are in place in several southern Chinese regions amid a spell of freezing cold. Heavy snowfall in the capital has also caused major traffic disruption.

People walking down snowy street in Beijing
Beijing has had higher-than-expected snowfallImage: CFOTO/picture alliance

Chinese authorities on Wednesday renewed an orange weather alert — the highest level in a three-tier system — for some southern regions, with already freezing temperatures set to fall even further.

Swathes of China have been hit by a cold spell this week, with temperatures in some areas in the south predicted to drop by as much as 20 degrees Celsius (36 degrees Fahrenheit), according to the National Meteorological Center (NMC).

The NMC has forecast subzero temperatures for the days ahead around the country's central region, in the east, north and northwest as well as in parts of the south.

State news agency Xinhua said the NMC had "called on local governments to take precautions against the cold weather, advised the public to keep warm, and called for necessary measures to protect crops and aquatic products."

In the provinces of Hebei, Henan and Shandong, authorities warned of dangers to traffic and other risks related to the icy weather.

People pushing a tricycle in the snow
Fuyang in eastern China has also experienced heavy snowImage: CFOTO/picture alliance

Beijing highways closed

According to state television CCTV, authorities in the capital, Beijing, shut eight highways, with up to 4.1 centimeters (1.6 inches) of snow falling in some suburban areas.

"It is recommended that residents ... stagger their travel, use public buses and subways, drive their own cars slowly and pay attention to safety," the city administration said in an online statement on Tuesday evening.

Almost 200 road sections were closed across the country due to the severe weather, CCTV said.

Flights and intercity trains services have also been delayed or canceled, while some schools have canceled classes.

The bout of cold weather is expected to last until Monday.

 tj/nm (Reuters, AFP)