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January 7, 2010

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Chilliest day in Beijing since '71

MOST parts of China were seized by a sustained cold snap yesterday when the minimum temperature hit a 39-year low in Beijing and a rare snowstorm in central Hubei Province kept all schoolchildren at home.

The Beijing weather bureau said the capital had its lowest temperature in 39 years at daybreak yesterday, when the minimum was minus 16.7 degrees Celsius.

"The same temperature was recorded on January 4, 1971," said Guo Hu, head of the Beijing Meteorological Station.

The sun was out, however, and road traffic gradually returned to normal yesterday, three days after the heaviest snow in decades hit Beijing.

Many roads were still too slippery for novice drivers and most senior citizens avoided going out.

The bureau has forecast more snow for tomorrow.

"Parts of Beijing can expect light to moderate snow on Friday," chief weatherman Sun Jisong said yesterday.

He said the cold snap would persist and in the next 10 days, temperatures in Beijing would stay below minus 3 degrees even at the warmest hours around noon.

"The low temperature will be around minus 9 to minus 14," Sun said.

In Wuhan, in central China's Hubei Province, about 800,000 primary and secondary students were told to stay home yesterday as more than 10 centimeters of snow fell and the maximum temperature plunged 15 degrees to minus 3 degrees.

The snow began on Tuesday afternoon and hit 16 cities and counties across Hubei.

In Daye, the worst-hit city, snow measured 18cm yesterday morning, the provincial weather bureau said.

The National Meteorological Center forecast snow in 12 provinces and autonomous regions for yesterday and today, including Xinjiang in the far west, the three northeastern provinces of Heilongjiang, Jilin and Liaoning, and Guizhou Province in the southwest.

The deep freeze that began to hit most parts of China last weekend has challenged fuel and power supplies.


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