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January 17, 2011

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Bureau warns of continuing freeze

FREEZING weather will continue this week as more northern cold fronts descend on Shanghai, forecasters said yesterday.

Downtown temperatures fell as low as 4.4 degrees below zero yesterday morning - the lowest since winter began, the Shanghai Meteorological Bureau said.

Yesterday's high was just 0.9 degrees Celsius.

Rain, snow and ice are forecast through Friday in many parts of China and could disrupt travel plans for millions who aim to get on the road ahead of the Spring Festival holiday.

Shanghai is expected to see some rain and sleet this week with temperatures falling below zero.

"This could cause some trouble to transport in the lead up to the Spring Festival," the weather bureau said.

Cloudy to overcast conditions are forecast for today, with low temperatures down to minus 3 degrees in urban areas.

The mercury is forecast to fall even lower in the suburbs, down to as low as minus six degrees. This could create serious icy conditions, the bureau warned.

The Pudong New Area weather authority issued a yellow frost alert late yesterday afternoon, warning farmers to take care of their crops as overnight temperatures were set to plummet.

Sleet is forecast for tomorrow with a low of minus one degree and a high of four.

The sleety weather should persist until Thursday with lows around zero while highs should be about four degrees.

Meanwhile, the bureau's cold index was at its highest level with conditions making it "very easy to catch a cold."

Doctors said the number of patients with the cold had soared during the freezing spell.

Shanghai East Hospital has seen 6,000 patients a day since the beginning of this year, up 32 percent on the same period of last year.

Numbers peaked at 6,300 last week, and most were people who had caught the cold, the hospital said.

The department of respiratory diseases had been seeing 500 patients a day, double the usual figure, the hospital added.

The electricity demand hit more than 20 million kilowatts last week, the city's supplier, Shanghai Electric Power Co Ltd, said yesterday.


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