Snowstorms disrupted road traffic in northern and eastern China on Wednesday, causing chaos for travelers returning to work after Spring Festival family reunions.
Snow started to fall on Tuesday in regions including Ningxia, Shaanxi, Shanxi, Hebei and Henan, according to the National Meteorological Center.
Snowstorms are forecast to linger in most northern regions and to sweep provinces in east and central China, including Shandong, Jiangsu, Anhui and Hubei, on Wednesday and Thursday, the center said in a statement.
Snow in the affected regions could be as deep as 16 cm, it said.
All highways in four major cities in the northern province of Hebei and most highways in the central province of Henan have been closed as icy and slippery roads pose safety risks.
The snowstorms also forced the closure of dozens of highways in other snow-affected regions, including Shandong, Jiangsu, Anhui, Shanxi, Shaanxi and Hubei.
Workday will begin on Friday after a 7-day Spring Festival holiday but the lingering snow forces many Chinese to continue their stay at home.
Luo Shuyao, 24, a civil servant in the taxation bureau of Yan’an City, Shaanxi Province, had to call her boss on Wednesday and delay her return to work as the coach station in Yichuan County, her hometown, was suspended from operation.
The date for the station to resume operation is yet to know as the heavy snow continues to hit the region.
The closure of highways also forces Liu Zhi’an, a local official in Wuqi County, to be stuck in the provincial capital of Xi’an. He wished roads would be cleared on Thursday so that he could drive back to work.
Meanwhile, high-speed trains running through the snowstorm-battered regions, including those between Beijing and Shanghai and Beijing and Guangzhou, are capped at a maximum speed of 200 km per hour to ensure transport safety.
The National Meteorological Center has issued a yellow alert for the blizzards. China’s meteorological disaster alerts are categorized as blue, yellow, orange and red, with red being the most severe and blue the least.
The blizzard follows a cold front that hit the regions and brought temperatures down by as much as 18 degrees Celsius.
The week-long Spring Festival, the most important traditional holiday in China, will end on Thursday and tens of millions of people will return to work from their hometowns.