Snakes in the wild might still be in their winter sleep, but Hong Kong and the mainland were busy yesterday preparing to welcome the arrival of early spring and the Year of the Snake amid chilly but humid weather. The changing weather has not dampened the festival spirit in Hong Kong's streets, judging from the number of people doing their last-minute shopping. Under the influence of a cold front, the temperature in the city is expected to drop today and remain cool tomorrow, the first day of the Lunar New Year. The Observatory issued the cold-weather warning yesterday, predicting the mercury will fall today to around 12 degrees Celsius, and several degrees lower in the New Territories. Warmer weather is expected to return early next week. An Observatory spokesman noted that cool weather was not uncommon on New Year's day. "February is still winter, and we occasionally have some cold days during this period," he said. According to temperature data obtained from the Observatory - which has been collated into an info-graphic by South China Morning Post's graphics team - the decade between 2001 and 2010 had both some of the warmest and coldest Lunar New Year days on record. The coldest was in 2008, when snowstorms swept through the mainland. On the first day of that new year, the temperature ranged between 8 and 11 degrees. But the year before, the city had the warmest Lunar New Year's day - with temperatures hitting 25 degrees. As for the mainland, the China Meteorological Administration forecasts that parts of Guizhou , Hunan and Jiangxi will get freezing rain today, while areas south of the middle and lower stretches of the Yangtze River will see light snow and rain. Much of northern and northwestern China, including Beijing, will see temperatures as low as minus 16 degrees today. In the northeastern province of Heilongjiang , temperatures may drop even further, to below minus 32 degrees. The weather office expects much of the southern part of the mainland - stretching from the southwest to Guangdong and up to the Yangtze - will see overcast or rainy weather tomorrow and Monday.