A new round of strong cold air that rolled in on Saturday is expected to bring a sustained cold spell, snow and rainfall Monday to large parts of China, mitigating the drought currently gripping the south and declaring the coming of winter nationwide.
The second cold snap is gripping most parts of northern China, bringing foggy weather to 10 provinces and cities including Beijing, Tianjin, Shanxi and Zhejiang and up to 14 degrees of temperature drop.
Meanwhile, the heat continues in some southern cities such as Nanning, with temperatures hitting 30 degrees C on Saturday, the day of Lidong, a Chinese term for the beginning of winter.
Dense fog that enveloped the capital city has caused traffic authorities to shut down seven highways except the one to Badaling Great Wall, the China News Agency reported Sunday.
The first air display, including aerobatic flight and parachute jumps to mark
the 60th anniversary of the China Air Force, scheduled for Sunday morning, was canceled due to the foggy weather.
Wang Fengqing, a driver for Beijing Emergency Center 999, told the Global Times Sunday that visibility was particularly poor and he had to make a detour Saturday to avoid the south Sixth Ring Road, which was shut down due to the fog, while he transported patients to hospitals.
"In some areas, I could not see objects 100 meters ahead of me. Maintaining a safe distance with cars in front of you is a golden rule in this weather," Wang said.
The fog caused a pileup of 13 vehicles on a highway in Jiangsu Province Sunday, killing three people and seriously injuring four.
The Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport had to suspend services for three hours due to heavy fog that left more than 30,000 passengers stranded.
The traffic, heat supply and weather-monitoring bodies in northern China are stepping up efforts to cope with the second round of temperature drops.
Maritime authorities in Shangdong Province warned passenger ferries to suspend their services in case of strong winds to prevent possible accidents at sea, the Xinhua News Agency reported Sunday.
Fishing boats are urged to raise their awareness against winds, and maritime sightseeing tours will also be canceled.
In high-end residential communities in Beijing, the heat supply has already been activated, earlier than scheduled, since the beginning of the month, when the first cold snap coincided with a heavy snow fall – the earliest in Beijing for 10 years – blanketing the capital’s streets and affecting air and road travel.
The heating service hotline – 62357575 – in Beijing appeared to be busy Sunday, as frequent attempts by the Global Times to contact a representative failed.
Shopping malls around the country are launching the first round of campaigns of this winter season to boost the sales of heating appliances and winter clothing.
"Down-wear is selling especially well since last week. More than 20 suits are sold each day compared with one or two in mid-October," Wu Aihua, a shopping assistant at Beijing Wanda Plaza Shopping Mall, told the Global Times.
In contrast, in Nanning, the capital of the Guangxi Zhuang Automatons Region, tempera-ture rose to 30 degrees C on Saturday.
Meteorological experts warned the local people against wearing heavy clothing or use thick quilts in light of the sudden rise in temperature.
At present, many areas in southern China are threatened by drought, with areas in Jiangxi, Guangdong and Yunnan provinces suffering from extreme drought, Xinhua reported Sunday.
By Wednesday, the drought had affected more than 1.3 million hectares of crops in Jiangxi, Hunan, Guangdong and other southern provinces, leaving 2.47 million people and 610,000 head of livestock thirsty.
The cold air is expected to bring a sustained spell of rainfall across southern China, which is expected to lower the temperature and mitigate the drought.
Zhang Mingying, an expert at the Beijing Meteorological Bureau, told the Global Times that despite the impact of global warming, the winter beginning to take hold in most regions of China is normal.
However, she warned local residents to take precautionary measures to avoid catching the A(H1N1) flu because, compared with the last cold snap, the current cold air will persist for the whole week and temperatures will drop even lower, with some places expected to experience at least a 10-degree-C drop.
"But the possibility of a snow blizzard like the one that hit south China last spring is slim,"