China braces for another wave of snowstorms, issues sleet alert
The deep freeze in central and southern parts of the country to continue, with death toll already at 15
A second wave of blizzards is expected to hit central and southern China this week, compounding transport woes from last week’s heavy snowfalls.
The National Meteorological Centre said snow had already started falling again on Sunday in the provinces of Henan, Hebei, Hubei and Anhui, and further falls were expected this week in the northeast provinces of Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang.
Light falls were forecast for mountainous parts of Fujian and Guangdong in the south.
The centre said rainstorms had hit northern areas of Guangxi and Guangdong, as well as Jiangxi and Fujian provinces, and would continue until Tuesday morning.
Heavy snow paralysed public transport and energy supplies in central and eastern China last week, killing at least 15 people in the most severe weather so far this winter.
Anhui was particularly hard hit, reporting 1.26 billion yuan (US$194 million) in direct economic losses from the wild weather since Tuesday, according to Anhui Daily.
By Saturday, more than half a million people in Hubei province had been affected, hundreds of whom had to move out of their homes, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
On Sunday, 19 high-speed train services from southwestern regions – including Chongqing and Chengdu – were cancelled because of the conditions.
Dozens of highways in nine provinces – Shanxi, Shandong, Jiangsu, Hubei, Hunan, Shaanxi, Anhui, Guizhou and Gansu – were also closed, according to a highway monitoring website Chinahighway.com.
Beijing remained largely unaffected, with only light snowfalls in mountain areas in its western and northern regions. Shanghai reported rain on Sunday but the rest of the week was expected to be clear.
In Xian, the capital of Shaanxi province, a waitress said business at the restaurant she worked at had halved because of the heavy snow.
“Everyone is talking about the snow this year – it’s been some of the worst in the last few years,” she said.
“Not many customers are dining in and we have had to turn down delivery orders too because the roads are too slippery for vehicles. Sanitation workers and snowploughs are working non-stop to clear the icy snow to make way for traffic.”
Although the next wave of snow would be less severe than last week’s, there was the risk of sleet in Hunan, Guizhou and Jiangxi provinces, according to the Public Weather Service Centre.
In January 2008, central and southern China was thrown into chaos for weeks when unexpected blizzards and sleet inflicted widespread damage to transport networks.