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Rain, snow to hit roads during Spring Festival travel peak

(Xinhua)

08:50, January 20, 2012

BEIJING, Jan. 19 (Xinhua) -- Snow and rain will sweep central and eastern China three days ahead of the start of the Lunar New year, China's meteorological authority said Thursday, advising those traveling on the country's roads to take care.

Over the next three days, parts of Gansu, Shaanxi, Shanxi, Henan, Anhui, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangxi, Zhejiang and Guizhou provinces will see heavy snow. Freezing rain will hit some areas of Guizhou, Hunan, Jiangxi and Guangxi, according to a statement posted on the National Meteorological Center (NMC)'s website.

"Judging from current trends, this will be the last heavy snow and freezing rain we see during the holiday," said Ma Xuekuan, a weather forecaster with the NMC.

Large amounts of snow and freezing rain inundated south China in early 2008, bringing traffic to a standstill during the Spring Festival holiday season.

Fog expanded to many regions in east, central and southwest China on Thursday morning and will cover parts of Liaoning, Hebei, Beijing, Tianjin, Shanxi, Shandong, Henan, Shaanxi at night, according to the NMC.

A thick fog that has descended upon Beijing, Tianjin and neighboring cities has reduced visibility to less than 500 meters in some areas, causing highway closures and flight cancellations.

The adverse weather even affected traffic on a bustling railway line linking Beijing with south China's city of Guangzhou on Wednesday when a passenger train lost power and was stranded on the tracks in Zhengzhou, capital of central Henan province. The accident also delayed at least five other train trips on the railway.

A total of 3.16 billion passenger trips are expected during the 40-day festival travel rush, which started on Jan. 8, up 9.1 percent from a year earlier.

Of the total number of trips, 235 million will be made via the country's railways, up 6.1 percent year-on-year, according to the country's railway authorities.

The Spring Festival holiday, which begins on Jan. 23 this year, is a major Chinese holiday, with many Chinese returning to their hometowns for family reunions.

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