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November 11, 2009

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Snow snarls air and road traffic in nation's north

HEAVY snow blanketed Beijing and other parts of northern China yesterday, causing air travel delays and highway closures.

The snow fell amid lightning and thunder in the capital from late Monday to early yesterday, and was the second snowfall in eight days.

"The occurrence was rather unusual and rare for early November," Sun Jisong, chief forecaster for the Beijing Meteorological Bureau.

More snow was forecast to hit Beijing today and tomorrow.

Haidian District in northwest Beijing recorded 18.5 millimeters of snowfall, the heaviest in the city, according to the China Meteorological Administration.

Snowfall at the Beijing Capital International Airport was 15mm. At least 68 flights were canceled and 33 were delayed.

The snow brought morning rush hour traffic to a crawl, but the municipal transport authorities used more than 6,000 tons of thawing agents to clear the roads to ease congestion.

The Beijing Traffic Management Bureau dispatched about 3,800 police officers to direct traffic on the main roads.

Three highways were partly closed for several hours, and 117 cross-provincial bus services were canceled.

Snow also hit Tianjin Municipality and Hebei, Shanxi, Ningxia and Xinjiang yesterday.

The Taiyuan Airport, in Shanxi Province, was closed yesterday morning, leaving almost 1,000 passengers stranded.

All highways in Shanxi were closed, the provincial transport bureau said. It gave no timetable for their reopening as the snow was to last until tomorrow.

Nearly 1,000 passengers were stranded at the Hedong Airport in Yinchuan City, capital of northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, as the runway was covered by snow.

Flights to Yinchuan had to land in neighboring cities.

The heaviest snow in 22 years hit Hebei Province. The snow accumulated to as deep as 37 centimeters in some parts of the province, said the provincial meteorological bureau.

It forecast that the temperature would drop to between minus 15 to minus 17 degrees Celsius.


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