China copes with worst cold in decades

Source:Xinhua Published: 2016-1-24 10:15:46

Electricians patrol at Loushanguan Mountain in Tongzi County, southwest China's Guizhou Province on January 23, 2016. Local power grid companies take different measures to secure power supply under extreme weather conditions. Photo:Xinhua

China has geared up to cope with the winter's coldest weekend as the worst cold front in decades sweeps across the country.

The national observatory raised the weather warning level from yellow to orange on Saturday morning.

According to the National Meteorological Center (NMC), temperatures dropped 6 to 10 degrees Celsius on Saturday morning in parts of northwest China, north China and the Huanghuai area.

China has a four-tier warning system for severe weather, with red being the most serious, followed by orange, yellow and blue.

In Beijing, temperatures dropped to under minus 10 degrees Celsius on Friday and will hit a 30-year low of minus 16 degrees Celsius from Saturday through Sunday, the Beijing meteorological station said.

The maximum load of Beijing's power grid system reached about 16.96 million kilowatts at 5:54 pm on Friday, setting a record for the capital's winter power supply in recent years.

A total of 465 emergency repair vehicles and 15 emergency generator wagons allocated by Beijing Electric Power Corporation are ready to help with any power supply problems.

The heating supply departments from the municipalities of Beijing and Tianjin and neighboring Hebei Province asked the heating supply units or companies in the region to raise heating temperatures to cope with the freezing weather.

Sanitation workers in Xingtai City of Hebei received cotton clothes, hats and gloves from the city's environmental sanitation department.

Traffic police from Baoding City, Hebei Province, have also been equipped with warm clothing while their shifts have been shortened.

"We must ensure the police do not get frostbite," said Jia Tao, a traffic police officer in Baoding.

The cold air moving south also brought low temperatures and rare snowfall to regions along the Yangtze River on Saturday.

At 7:00 a.m. on Saturday, all regions north of the Yangtze River, except eastern Sichuan Province and Chongqing, saw temperatures drop to below zero degrees Celsius, according to the NMC.

The downtown of southwest China's Chongqing Municipality braced for its first snow since 1996 from Friday night to Saturday morning.

The "super cold wave" brought sleet and heavy snow to southwest China's Sichuan Province from Friday night to Saturday morning, disrupting parts of the province's power supply system.

The power supply of more than 300,000 households in Sichuan has been affected, and local power companies are racing to repair the paralyzed grid system.

As of 4 p.m. on Saturday afternoon, 72,500 of the 300,000 households had their electricity restored. Electricity for the remaining households will be restored during the weekend, according to the State Grid Sichuan Electric Power Company.

Shanghai Municipality also saw snow early Saturday morning while the temperature in the city dropped to under minus two degrees Celsius.

Before the cold spell arrived, the agriculture department of Shanghai stored enough vegetables to deal with demand during the weekend cold snap.

The NMC also expects temperatures in South and Southeast China to drop by 6 to 10 degrees Celsius from Saturday to Monday. Temperatures in central and eastern regions of China were 6 to 8 degrees Celsius lower than the average historical level.

Temperatures in parts of Anhui, Zhejiang, Fujian and Guangdong are forecast to approach or even drop below the lowest levels on record, it said.

As of Saturday noon, a total of 493,600 people in Zhejiang Province had been affected by the cold weather, while 31,852 people had been relocated.

About 5,500 hectares of farmland in Zhejiang have been damaged and seven homes had collapsed, resulting in direct economic losses of about 40.13 million yuan (6.1 million US dollars), the provincial civil affairs department said.

The department so far has provided assistance to 3,565 people and ordered personnel to visit more than 2,280 nursing homes across the province. The department also sent personnel to patrol the streets to help the homeless

In east China's Anhui Province, traffic was disrupted by the snow. Several highways saw different sections closed as of Saturday morning, while long-distance coach service from Wuhu City was suspended.

In neighboring Jiangxi Province, the provincial fishery department ordered local authorities to help the endangered finless porpoise survive the harsh weather. According to weather forecasts, the province will experience the coldest weather since 1992 from Saturday to Tuesday, which could threaten the porpoise.

Special personnel were sent to feed the animals and patrol the Yangtze River to quickly identify porpoises that need help.

The cold air has also brought trouble to China's coastal areas.

Due to freezing weather, sea ice coverage in the north of Liaodong Gulf almost doubled within 10 days to 12,415 square kilometers. The size is 7,650 square kilometers larger than last year.

Liaoning maritime authorities issued a warning on Friday urging those involved in fishing, drilling and shipping in the sea to pay attention to changes in weather and ice and take precautionary measures.

The southernmost island province of Hainan did not escape the weather. Severe cold air caused strong winds to howl across the Qiongzhou Strait. Ferry services across the strait between Hainan and the mainland were suspended on Saturday, according to the Haikou Maritime Safety Administration.

As most of China struggles against the bitter cold, a man in China's "ice city" of Harbin, capital of northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, pushed himself to the limit to entertain others.

Jin Songhao, dubbed "ice man," performed cold-resistant feats such as dumping snow and ice on his body at the city's ice and snow festival on Saturday, when the city saw temperatures of minus 30 degrees Celsius.

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