Highest weather alert issued as temperatures plunge

Severe weather warnings were in place across swathes of China as temperatures plummeted across the south and Beijing shivered in snowy conditions.

Authorities renewed an orange alert – the highest in the country’s three-tier system – warning that average temperatures could fall by 6 to 12˚C by tomorrow in the south, where they are currently around 0˚C.

In some areas, temperatures could plunge by more than 20˚C, the National Meteorological Center (NMC) said on social media yesterday.

State news agency Xinhua said the NMC had “called on local governments to take precautions against the cold weather, advised the public to keep warm, and called for necessary measures to protect crops and aquatic products”. Schools were also forced to cancel classes, according to media outlets.

In Beijing, where temperatures hovered around freezing yesterday, residents awoke to find the capital blanketed in white following overnight snowfall.

Traffic slowed to a crawl on the city’s highways, while snow-dusted pavements proved treacherous for commuters and cyclists.

Municipal authorities said up to 4.1cm of snow had fallen in some suburban areas and issued a warning over icy roads.

“It is recommended that residents ... stagger their travel, use public buses and subways, drive their own cars slowly and pay attention to safety,” the city government said.

Braving the cold temperatures in the capital’s historic Forbidden City, visitors – some in traditional costumes – marvelled at the picturesque snowfall.

“I am very happy to be here. This snow scene and the dragon lanterns give me a sense of prosperity,” said Long Yan, a tourist from Sichuan province.

“Auspicious snow signifies a bountiful year. This snow is a beautiful omen,” she said. — AFP

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