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November 2, 2009

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Sudden cold snap brings snow

BITING cold and strong wind hit Chinese provinces yesterday as Beijing received its first snowfall this winter.

The National Meteorological Center issued an orange alert against a cold front yesterday morning, forecasting strong winds and temperature plummets in north, central and east China.

Passenger shipping services between Yantai, Shandong Province in east China and Dalian of the northeastern Liaoning Province were suspended yesterday due to the cold front and strong winds.

Tianjin in the north also received its first snow this winter.

Snowstorms hit northeast China's Jilin Province, knocking over trees and disrupting flights. In Yanji City, more than 5,455 hectares of crops were damaged.

Shaanxi Province in the northwest, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region in the north and Jiangsu Province in the east also reported drastic drops in temperatures.

Beijing's first snow started in the early hours of yesterday and became heavier later in the morning, blanketing most of the city proper, and leaving tree branches broken and damaging electric wires.

Electricity supplies to some areas of the city were affected but full service was restored by late afternoon.

Skies cleared up in the capital after the snow stopped.

The Beijing Weather Modification Office said it had used artificial means to increase snow to ease the drought.

"We won't miss any opportunity for artificial precipitation since Beijing is suffering from this lingering drought," said Zhang Qiang, head of the office.

"We used 186 doses of silver iodide since 8pm on Saturday," she said, adding that it led to more than 16 million extra tons of snow.

The snow brought joy for many Beijing tourists.

On Xiangshan Mountain on the outskirts of Beijing, a tourist attraction famous for red maple leaves in autumn, visitors were in high spirits.

"I am so lucky to see this picturesque landscape," said a tourist from southeastern China's Fujian Province, where snow is rare.

The snow, however, caused inconvenience and traffic problems for residents.

Five bus routes to the mountainous areas of Beijing's suburbs were suspended.

The snow delayed 200 flights at the Beijing Capital International Airport as of noon yesterday.


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