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Hundreds saved from highway snow storm

(Shanghai Daily)

09:38, February 06, 2012

ALMOST 600 people stranded on a highway by a snow storm were safe yesterday after a 13-hour rescue operation in northwestern Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

Almost a hundred vehicles had been stranded on the Maytas section of Provincial Highway 201 since 7pm on Saturday amid high winds and a snow storm that had reduced visibility to zero, said official Ma Zhengyuan of the Tacheng road authority.

Rescuers closed the highway and worked overnight to release those stranded, Xinhua news agency reported. Everyone had been taken to safety by 8am yesterday.

In Shanghai, temperatures are expected to start falling tonight, dropping below zero degrees Celsius over the next few days under the influence of a strong cold front that is sweeping the nation, forecasters said yesterday.

There could be a drop of around 7 to 9 degrees from tonight and temperatures should reach minus 1 to 2 degrees in urban areas, the Shanghai Meteorological Bureau said. Rain is forecast earlier in the day today with temperatures ranging from 6 to 9 degrees.

The strong cold snap will affect the city until Thursday and temperatures could plunge to minus 5 degrees in the suburbs.

The rain should stop tomorrow and the conditions will be mostly cloudy but with chilling winds of up to 40 kilometers an hour.

Temperatures should start to rise from Friday.

"The cold front will be pretty strong with big winds," said bureau chief service officer Fu Yi. "Cold fronts come to the city from time to time in winter but this one should have a major influence as it has accumulated to a certain degree and the cold anticyclone is strong."

The cold front is so strong that temperatures will not bounce back to around 10 degrees until the weekend when it should have passed the city.

Over the weekend, the National Meteorological Center issued a blue alert warning of cold weather, the lowest level in the country's four-scale system.

Temperatures will drop by more than 6 degrees in central and eastern China and areas north of the Huaihe River. In some areas there will be a drop of up to 14 degrees.

Rain and snow is expected in south China and northern parts of the country.

Meanwhile, Shanghai's February is expected to be a little colder than usual, the city's weather bureau said.

The average temperature this month is expected to be 6 degrees compared to the 6.3 in previous years.

Shanghai's spring usually starts at the end of March.

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