China copes with worst cold in decades

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 has raised the weather warning level from yellow to orange.

Temperatures dropped 6 to 10 degrees Celsius in parts of north and northwest China on Saturday morning.

In Beijing, temperatures hit a 30-year low of minus 16 degrees Celsius at the weekend.

SUN JISONG, Beijing Weather Observatory:
“The wind brings low temperature. It’s extremely cold. Please try to avoid going out. Especially those with high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease, it’s very dangerous for them to stay outside in cold temperatures.”

The maximum load of Beijing’s power grid system reached nearly 17 million kilowatts on Friday, setting a record for the capital’s winter power supply in recent years.

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

Chongqing city in southwest China braced for its first snow since 1996 from Friday night to Saturday morning.

Chongqing citizen
“When I opened the door, it was clear and white. I haven’t seen such a heavy snow in 20 years.”

The National Meteorological Center 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 level of past years.

As of Saturday, nearly 500,000 people in the southeastern Zhejiang Province had been affected by the cold weather, while more than 31,000 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 six million U.S. dollars.

The provincial civil affairs department has provided assistance to help the homeless.

“I have no home and live at the roadside. It wasn’t good. Here is warm and nice.”

The cold air has also brought havoc to China’s coastal areas.

Due to freezing weather, sea ice coverage in the north of Liaodong Gulf almost doubled within 10 days to over 12,000 square kilometers. The size is 7,650 square kilometers larger than last year.

Even the southernmost island province of Hainan did not escape the dismal 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.

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