South to feel the freeze once again

08:09, January 17, 2011      

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Icy weather will return to southern China this week with lower temperatures and heavy freezing rains, the National Meteorological Center forecast over the weekend.

But the latest cold snap will not hamper the peak travel period around the Spring Festival holidays, as the icy weather did in January 2008, according to the National Climate Center.

From Monday to Wednesday, snow will sweep across southern China, with heavy downfalls pounding parts of Hunan province and neighboring Jiangxi province, according to the forecast.

The freezing rain that had coated roads and electricity towers with thick ice in Guizhou and Hunan provinces will expand into neighboring Yunnan and Jiangxi provinces, it said.

The forecast said Guiyang, capital of Guizhou, will start to see the freezing rain falling continuously on Sunday evening.

Due to the snow and freezing rain, temperatures in southern China will drop this week to between 2 and 4 degrees below the average level of the same period, the forecast said.

However, the likelihood of icy weather as widespread and persistent as in January 2008 was small, Xinhua News Agency reported on Sunday, quoting Song Lianchun, chief of the National Climate Center.

The intervals between freezing rains and fluctuations in temperatures this year will help thaw the ice, he predicted.

During this year's Spring Festival period, precipitation in China will probably be less than the average level in the same period in the past years, added Song.

Over the weekend, the latest cold snap plunged temperatures in northern China to record lows this year.

In part of Hulunbuir city in North China's Inner Mongolia autonomous region, the lowest temperatures had fallen to -46.6 C on Saturday, making it the eighth straight day with temperatures below -40 C, reported local meteorological stations.

In addition, the cold snap sped the growth of ice in the Bohai Sea, prompting the National Marine Forecasting Center on Sunday to issue the second warning on sea ice to the Liaodong Bay and the Laizhou Bay areas for this winter.

On Friday, 45 million yuan ($6.6 million) in disaster relief aid was appropriated to Hunan, Guizhou provinces and the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region by the ministries of finance and civil affairs, the Ministry of Civil Affairs said late Friday on its website.

The three were among the provinces hit hardest by the icy weather since early January.

As of 2 pm on Friday, the cold weather had affected almost 18 million people in southern China, the ministry added. Two people were killed, and 233,000 had been evacuated.

The extreme weather has caused direct economic losses of 7.7 billion yuan, said the ministry.

By Yan Jie, China Daily
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