Cold wave hits vast sections of China

Jan. 4, 2010 at 1:55 AM
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BEIJING, Jan. 4 (UPI) -- Chinese weather forecasters extended cold alert warnings until Tuesday for many provinces blanketed by heavy snow and gripped by icy conditions.

People were warned conditions could worsen because of strong winds, Xinhua reported. Forecasters said temperatures, already well below freezing, were expected to fall by up to 64 degrees Fahrenheit through Tuesday in central Inner Mongolia, Shaanxi province and in regions along the Yellow and Huaile rivers.

Similar conditions were forecast for north and central areas, including northwest China, north China, Guizhou Province, Chongqing and some regions in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.

Beijing had received almost a foot of snow, forcing authorities to close schools and cancel flights in and out of the Chinese capital, the BBC reported. Residents have been told to form work groups to clear snow and ice as transport systems came under strain.

Schools also were ordered closed in the neighboring Tianjin city. Many highways in the Beijing area also were closed.

The Agriculture Ministry, concerned about the weather's impact on the winter crop, sent seven working teams to oversee and guide agricultural work in major wheat and vegetable producing areas in north China, Xinhua reported. The ministry ordered local agricultural departments to promptly respond to weather disasters and help farmers reduce losses.

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