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Major roads in Chinese capital closed amid snow.

Photo-Reuters

Heavy snowfall in Beijing prompted authorities to close several highways on Wednesday, catching residents and officials off guard as the capital grappled with the unexpected weather event. The unanticipated snowfall, part of a broader cold spell sweeping across various parts of China, led to disruptions in transportation and daily routines for millions of residents. With freezing rain and snow expected to persist until Monday, authorities ramped up public transport services to accommodate the city's nearly 22 million inhabitants and closed eight major highways to prevent accidents and ensure safety.

The impact of the heavy snowfall extended beyond Beijing, with northern and central regions of China also experiencing significant snowfall, causing disruptions in traffic and prompting school closures. Flights and intercity train services, crucial for the country's commuter population, faced delays and cancellations, further exacerbating the transportation challenges brought on by the inclement weather. Provinces such as Hebei, Henan, and Shandong issued travel advisories and warnings about the hazardous conditions resulting from the cold weather, urging residents to exercise caution.

In response to the snowfall, tens of thousands of workers armed with brooms and shovels were deployed, assisted by snow plows, to clear roads and mitigate the impact of the weather on daily life. While mountainous areas continued to receive snowfall, urban areas began to see a halt in precipitation. Despite the picturesque scenes brought about by the snow, residents like Kylie Chen expressed frustration at the inconvenience caused by slippery roads and disrupted commutes.

The unexpected snowfall, lasting longer and being heavier than forecasted, was attributed to a convergence of humid air currents from the south and a slow-moving cold mass of air. This combination led to conditions that were more severe than initially anticipated, catching many off guard. However, some residents, such as Li Qiuhao, found silver linings in the disruption, appreciating the flexibility offered by employers to adjust work hours and avoid commuting challenges.

Despite the challenges posed by the snowfall, authorities worked diligently to manage the situation and ensure the safety of residents. Nearly 200 stretches of roads were closed nationwide, and the National Meteorological Center warned of subzero temperatures in the days ahead. Fortunately, no fatalities resulting from the cold wave were reported, underscoring the resilience and adaptability of communities in the face of unexpected weather events.

Feb. 21, 2024 4:21 p.m. 1444

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