WUHAN: Severe snow and freezing rain have hit central and eastern China, shutting down highways and posing significant challenges during the Spring Festival travel rush.
As of Monday, railways, highways and flights have been affected by the weather in provinces including Hubei, Hunan and Anhui.
More than 50 weather stations in Hubei, Anhui and Henan have reported snowfall amounts that are unprecedented for this time of year, the National Meteorological Center said.
The center added that as of Monday, parts of Henan, Anhui and Hubei have seen snow cover reaching 15 to 20 centimeters.
Temperatures in the regions are expected to remain significantly lower over the next few days, around 10 C lower than usual for this time of year.
Since Jan 31, a prolonged and widespread period of rain, snow and freezing weather has affected the central and eastern regions of China, marking the longest duration of such weather since the beginning of winter.
Li Aixun, a senior engineer at the China Meteorological Administration’s Public Meteorological Service Center, told news outlet ThePaper.cn that freezing rain has had a significant impact on transportation, power supply and communication systems.
Across China, roads have been blocked due to the extreme weather in more than 700 instances.
From Saturday night, widespread heavy snowfall has blanketed most parts of Hunan and Hubei.
Hubei is a vital province connecting east-west transportation arteries. Its capital city, Wuhan, is a major transportation hub linking nine provinces.
On Sunday, the Wuhan Railway Bureau issued a notice saying recent freezing rain and heavy snowfall along the Wuhan railway network have led to poor electricity conduction due to ice accumulation on the overhead contact system and reduced train speeds due to snow on the tracks.
To address these challenges, more than 3,000 railway staff members from the Wuhan railway network have been tasked with clearing snow and ice.
On Saturday, the Hubei Provincial Emergency Management Department and the Hubei branch of the National Food and Strategic Reserves Administration, allocated 25,000 quilts, coats and other supplies to ensure the warmth and safety of residents in need.
On Monday, the Ministry of Emergency Management maintained a level III emergency response, the third highest in the four-tier system, for rain, snow and freezing disasters in Anhui, Hubei and Hunan provinces, and a level IV emergency response, the lowest, for Henan, Guizhou and Jiangxi provinces.
It is expected that starting from Thursday, a day before Lunar New Year’s Eve, precipitation in the southern regions will diminish. Most areas will welcome the Spring Festival holiday in sunny and warm weather.