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March 5, 2013

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Forecasters likely to confirm what blossoms say: Spring has started

SHANGHAI likely entered the meteorological spring season yesterday as the mercury continues to rise this week.

After a mostly chilly weekend, the difference was apparent early yesterday. The city's high reached 17 degrees Celsius around noon - the highest registered this year - with a high pressure system taking control, according to the Shanghai Meteorological Bureau.

Today the high is expected to be 16 degrees Celsius, with a low of 6, under partly cloudy skies. Tomorrow's high should reach 20 degrees and the high likely will hit 23 degrees on Friday, forecasters said.

Meteorological spring is announced by the bureau when the average temperature reaches 10 degrees for five consecutive days after lichun, the traditional beginning of spring on the Chinese lunar calendar, usually around February 4. The first of the five warmer days is considered the beginning of the season.

The average temperature has been above 10 since yesterday and, according to the bureau's five-day forecast, the figure should remain above 10 degrees. The warmer temperatures mean that the city's spring likely started yesterday.

While cold fronts may still pass through next week, "the mercury should not drop much since there is a warming trend in the city," said Wu Rui, a chief service officer of the bureau.

This year's start of spring is a little earlier than average, which is March 16.

The earliest spring this decade was in 2007, when the season began on February 26, according to the bureau.

At the same time, the city's air quality is not as delightful as the warm temperatures since there has been slightly higher air pollution since Sunday.

Shanghai was considered lightly polluted yesterday with the index of the chief pollutant, tiny PM2.5 particles, climbing above 140. The situation was worse in some areas, such as in the Yangpu and Qingpu districts and the Chuansha section of the Pudong New Area, which had moderate air pollution as the index of PM2.5 rose above 150, according to Shanghai Environmental Monitoring Center.

The light pollution is expected to continue today.

City traffic authorities also warn that local traffic is expected to increase this month.

The traffic peak will arrive by the end of this month as people swarm into highways and expressways before the Qingming Festival that falls early next month. The subways linking to the cemeteries will also be crowded, said traffic officials.

The total vehicle volume will rise slightly this month with more out-of-towners coming back to the city for work.


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