China: Worst Snowstorms in 50 Years

Southeastern China continues to dig out from underneath what Chinese officials believe are the worst snowstorms to hit this region in more than 50 years. The storms began more than a week ago and haven’t let up, resulting in airport closures and delays, backed-up train stations, highway pile-ups, and more than two-dozen deaths.

Among the worst-affected cities is Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province, which borders Hong Kong. There, hundreds of thousands of workers employed in Guangzhou’s factories were stranded yesterday at railway stations. The number of people affected is expected to swell to more than a half million.

More than two-dozen people have died as a result of the weather, including 6 who died yesterday when a bus carrying 40 migrant workers overturned on an icy highway in Jiangxi province. Elsewhere, hundreds of homes have collapsed under the weight of heavy snows, forcing families to seek shelter in local hospitals, schools, and public shelters.

Weather forecasters predict that the freezing blizzards will continue to pummel parts of southeastern and western China until February 6, closing airports and railway stations, stranding millions of people as they prepare for next week’s Lunar New Year holiday.

The Times of London reports that 67 million people have been affected by the “freakish weather,” and the financial losses to businesses unable to operate because of stranded workers will top 18 billion yuan.

Air, road, and rail delays

On Tuesday, Airports in at least 10 cities in the affected region were either temporarily closed or experiencing delays. Most flights in and out of Shanghai, the country’s biggest financial center and the largest aviation hub, are experiencing delays, and flights into Hunan’s main airport are being rerouted to neighboring Henan because of icy conditions. Airports in the southeastern province of Nanjing have been closed.

Travel conditions around Guangzhou are especially severe because the southern end of the Beijing-Guangzhou rail line, a north-south railroad, has been paralyzed by heavy snow in the central Hunan Province where power-transmission facilities have been knocked out. Guangdong railway authorities reported that traffic on the Beijing-Guangzhou line probably wouldn’t return to normal for most of the week. To make matters worse, seven of the eight highways running from Guangdong to the Hunan province have been closed because of heavy snow.

From the Forums:

Current Weather/Power Outages
“Can anyone in China update me on the current situation re Hydro Outages/Transportation? Articles posted on the China Daily which are rather ominous.”