Authorities launch relief efforts to clean up damage caused by blizzard
This winter"s largest blizzard is beginning to weaken after sweeping across vast central and southern regions, but the impact from freezing cold and accumulated ice is ongoing, disrupting traffic and causing economic losses.
The cold front, the strongest and largest so far this season, has affected most of the country from north to south since Tuesday, but it finally began to lose steam on Sunday, the National Meteorological Center said.
The center downgraded its warning from the second-highest orange level to the lowest blue on Sunday. The four-colored warning system includes red, orange, yellow and blue.
"But freezing cold and strong gusts will persist in these regions until Saturday, keeping temperatures low and preventing ice from melting quickly, so residents should be wary of icy road conditions," said Yang Jing, an expert with the public service department at the China Meteorological Administration.
Temperatures in the affected regions are 5 to 6 degrees lower than the average levels for the same period over the past 30 years, data show.
Since Tuesday, many provinces including Jiangsu, Anhui, Hubei and Hunan have been hit by blizzards, with temperatures hitting extreme lows, the center said.
The heavy snow and ice has disrupted traffic, as well as caused flight and train delays and cancellations.
More than 10,000 long-distance coach journeys were canceled, leaving 331 passengers stranded in Jiangsu, while 21 expressways in Anhui were closed due to the icy roads and low visibility on Sunday.
All inbound and outbound flights were halted at Changsha Huanghua International Airport in Hunan on Sunday morning.
Among the affected regions, many cities in Hubei saw record snowfall since official figures have been kept, including Shiyan, which recorded 21 centimeters within a short period, the highest in its history, the National Meteorological Center said.
More than 670,000 people in Hubei had been affected as of 3 pm on Saturday, with direct economic losses of more than 270 million yuan ($42.7 million) due to damaged homes and crops, according to the provincial civil affairs department.
To reduce heavy snow damage, provinces issued emergency responses and have taken measures to de-ice roads and evacuate vulnerable households to other areas.
The Hubei government has allocated 124,000 yuan toward the disaster relief efforts and provided nearly 6,000 overcoats and quilts for residents.