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Blizzards to sweep half the country

By ZHENG JINRAN | China Daily | Updated: 2018-01-03 09:28

Snow and rain to hit 23 regions; Beijing's dry spell to continue

This winter's heaviest bout of snow and rainfall began sweeping 23 provincial-level regions-half of the country's territory-on Tuesday and will continue until Thursday, according to official forecasts.

The cold snap started to affect northwestern provinces such as Shaanxi on Tuesday and is expected to head southeast to central and eastern regions, with the heaviest snow set for Wednesday, the National Meteorological Center said.

Forecasts suggest blizzards will cover more than 4 million square kilometers, bringing heavy snow and rain to parts of Shaanxi, Shanxi, Henan, Hubei, Jiangsu and Anhui provinces.

Total precipitation will approach or exceed record highs for January, the center has predicted, adding that residents in some eastern provinces, including Jiangsu, will see their first snow of the winter.

Although southern parts of Hebei province are expected to be hit by heavy snow on Wednesday and Thursday, Beijing should remain dry. The capital has now gone 72 days without precipitation, apart from the light dusting of snow in Yanqing district, according to official records.

"This bout of heavy snow and rainfall is mainly a result of the strong and constant supply of warm, moist air from Bengal Bay meeting with the cold front from our northwestern region," said Zhang Tao, chief forecaster for the National Meteorological Center.

"The major characteristic is that these strong blizzards will cover a wide area," he said, adding that compared with the rain in the east, the snow in the vast northwestern and central region will have a major effect.

On Tuesday morning, Shaanxi issued a yellow alert for snow, suggesting potential delays to railways and flights and disruptions to electricity supplies. In some cities, such as Xianyang, the snowfall is forecast to reach 10 centimeters by 8 pm on Wednesday.

Henan's capital Zhengzhou issued warnings for passengers, too, saying that over 200 commuter buses to cities inside the province and to neighboring Shanxi would be affected by the swirling wind and snow, with services expected to be suspended on Wednesday and Thursday, according to a Dahe Daily report.

Besides the heavy rain, falling temperatures and low visibility, however, the precipitation will help ease droughts in some parts of the country, which is good news for crop farmers, Zhang said.

The weather will also clean the air and lower the risk of forest fires, he added.

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