BEIJING - Cold fronts are expected to bring lower temperatures along with the possibility of rain or snow in many places across China this week.
In anticipation of winter arriving with a vengeance, homeless shelters and heating suppliers are gearing up to ensure that people are able to survive the cold weather.
The Inner Mongolia autonomous region and the northeastern provinces of Heilongjiang, Jilin and Liaoning have already been affected by the cold air, with drops in temperatures ranging from 4 to 10 C in places over the weekend.
The cold air has been accompanied by snow in those areas and more snow is forecast for the week ahead, according to the National Meteorological Center.
It is hoped the snowfall will help to relieve the prolonged drought in Northern China.
In southern parts of the country, the provinces of Yunnan, Guizhou and Hunan were hit by heavy rain over the weekend, with some places receiving 70 millimeters of precipitation in 24 hours.
As the cold front heads south, the southern regions are forecast to receive further rain this week and temperature dips of 4 to 8 C.
Beijing was expected to receive its first snowfall of the winter on Sunday night, 42 days later than last year.
A light blanket of snow was forecast to fall across the capital. It is not expected to stick, though temperatures will fall as low as -10 C this week and daytime highs will hover around the freezing point.
In anticipation of the cold weather, heating suppliers have been making efforts to provide sustainable heating services to residents in many northern cities.
Xia Peng, who is employed by the Huisheng Heating Co Ltd, a thermal service provider in Shenyang, capital city of Liaoning, told China Daily the company has prepared for rising demand and will be able to provide residents with heating 24 hours a day.
"We have sufficient coal in stock to ensure the stable and safe operation of our heating system. We have also checked and fixed pipes and facilities in some key residential communities," he said.
Xia said his company has ample staff and facilities to meet any emergencies that may arise.
"We can dispatch operators to fix problems as soon as possible when customers call to request a repair."
In Liaoning's Fushun city, heating suppliers have started up their standby boilers and are ready to raise the temperature of pipe water.
Nationwide, homeless shelters are taking steps to help vagrants and beggars survive the winter.
A shelter in Shenyang said quilts and clothing are available for the homeless to keep warm.
"We have five mobile standby cars ready to respond to 24-hour emergency cases," Li Wei, an official of the shelter, said on Sunday.
"Some wanderers will suffer from cold-related injuries and we will send them to hospitals to receive free treatment," he said, adding that the shelter helps about 1,800 homeless people every winter.
In Xi'an, capital city of Northwest China's Shaanxi province, the homeless shelter opened its doors a month ago.
"When we find a vagrant or a beggar, we invite him to eat and sleep at our shelter, which is able to accommodate more than 100 people at a time," said an official, surnamed Wang.
"If they refuse to come, we give them free quits and clothing. They are allowed to make a free call home from the center. And if they are able to remember their hometowns, we are willing to purchase train tickets to send them home," he said.