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Cold wave brings a series of challenges to China
China Daily
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Cold wave brings a series of challenges to China

The coldest air of this winter to date, which swept across China, transformed landscapes into frozen wonderlands.

Topics such as "the West Lake was frozen" and "the Shandong Peninsula looks like an Arctic research site" dominated discussions on Sina Weibo.

On Xiaohongshu, a lifestyle-focused social media platform, one netizen posted, "Some people can afford to go to Siberia these days, but the Shandong Peninsula is far more cost-effective."

Over the past two weeks, residents have braved blizzards and plummeting temperatures as waves of cold air broke records nationwide.

On Dec 12, the China Meteorological Administration issued its first yellow alert in a decade for freezing temperatures.

From Dec 13 to 16, many parts of northern China and the southern provinces of Hunan, Hubei and Guizhou witnessed drops in temperature of more than 14 C.

Fu Jiaolan, chief forecaster at the National Meteorological Center, said that since last month, three rounds of cold weather have hit many areas of the country.

Along with the cold air, some parts of the country have been affected by snow, rain and sandstorms, Fu said.

Ge Xuanxi, a white-collar worker based in Beijing, who returned to her hometown of Yantai, Shandong province, for a holiday, said, "I haven't seen this much snow for years and have had to cancel my plan to dine out with friends.

"Snow is wonderful. The local landscape looks like a scene from the Japanese television series First Love," Ge said. "A friend of mine who has just returned from Norway said the snow scene here looks exactly the same as that in Norway.

"Snow is fine, as long as it doesn't cause disasters."

Authorities mobilized resources and implemented measures to tackle the challenges posed by the cold weather.

The transportation and energy sectors stepped up efforts to ensure safety and power supplies.

On Dec 17, China set records for the use of electricity and natural gas, with the former peaking at 1.24 billion kilowatts, and gas consumption surpassing 1.42 billion cubic meters, official data show.

The National Development and Reform Commission, the country's top economic planner, said it is working with other agencies to ensure that electricity and natural gas supplies meet the surging demand for energy during the heating season.

In Dachuan town, Shiyan city, Hubei province, power supplies were disrupted when heavy snow lodged in trees on Dec 14. A swift response from power workers working at an altitude of 1,200 meters ensured electricity was quickly restored.

Lyu Yulong, an official in charge of power supplies in the Shiyan Economic and Technological Development Zone, said challenges were posed by freezing rain, which resulted in ice covering power lines.

The workers swiftly carried out repairs, and power was restored before 10 pm on Dec 14, Lyu said.

Traffic was also affected by the heavy snowfall, posing threats to road safety.

Zhang Zhijie, from Hubei Expressway Business Development Co, said the company carried out snow-melting operations four times overnight on Dec 14 from Shiyan city to Fangxian county.

The company, which is responsible for maintaining a 618-kilometer highway, including 574 bridges, numerous steep slopes and sharp turns, said working in freezing temperatures was challenging.

A total of 48 snow removal devices were deployed by the company, which has stockpiled 2,227 metric tons of snow-melting agents for anti-freezing and skid resistance work for the winter and spring.

Emergency call

In neighboring Hunan province on Dec 16, employees at a high-speed railway station worked hard to clear snow.

Huang Zhonghai, a staff member at Yiyang South station, rushed to his place of work after receiving an emergency phone call at 1 am as heavy snowfall blanketed the small southern city.

After arriving at the station, Huang and his colleagues spread industrial salt on walkways and cleared ice from entrances. They worked tirelessly until 2 am.

"I couldn't get to sleep last night after seeing the weather forecast, although many other people were looking forward to the first snow of the winter. Over the years, at the first mention of snow, my thoughts immediately turn to clearing it away, along with the ice," Huang said.

He returned to the station early the next morning to make ginger tea for passengers.

Wu Rong, manager of the station, said it was prepared for the drop in temperatures and heavy snowfall.

"During the day, we carry out air conditioning checks every two hours, and at night, we clean the air conditioners if necessary. We also arrange for maintenance personnel to inspect water dispensers, ensuring 24-hour supplies of hot water for passengers," Wu said.

Despite the freezing temperatures, tourists flocked to witness spectacular wintry scenes.

Last week, the cold spell brought snow and frost to the Tianmen Mountain Scenic Area in Zhangjiajie, Hunan, along with more than 4,000 visitors each day. Tourist numbers also surged at Hengshan Mountain.

Online customized travel platform 32Hike, which is based in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province, said it increased the number of organized trips to Hengshan Mountain to give visitors a chance to enjoy the snow-white landscape.

To cater to the influx of tourists and ensure a safe and comfortable experience, scenic spots implemented various safety measures, including posting conspicuous safety warnings in risky areas and providing free hot tea, raincoats, towels and medicine.

Kang Yang, a police officer stationed on Zhurong Peak, the highest point on Hengshan Mountain, said staff members at the police station worked day and night, stepping up patrols and responding to tourists' needs at any time.

"We tell visitors to the mountain to manage their time well, and urge them to come down from the mountain as early as possible, and no later than 4 pm. Officials also use megaphones to remind tourists of safety precautions," Kang said, adding that temporary medical aid sites have been set up to handle emergencies.

Ensuring the well-being of vulnerable populations has also been a priority amid the icy weather.

The Guangdong Provincial Civil Affairs Department said that as of 4 pm on Dec 20, authorities had visited 419,000 vulnerable people, and relocated 102 individuals. Street patrols also assisted more than 2,600 homeless people.

Authorities in a number of cities in Guangdong distributed supplies such as cotton quilts, coats, blankets, wooden beds, heaters, rice, water, milk and noodles, with the total relief fund amounting to 43.9 million yuan ($6.15 million).

Blood donation centers in Shandong, Henan and Shanxi provinces are facing difficulties, as plummeting temperatures have resulted in a sharp fall in donations.

Urgent appeals for donations as blood supplies reached critical levels were issued in Weifang, Shandong, Xinxiang, Henan, and Yuncheng, Shanxi.

Staff members at the blood center in Taiyuan, capital of Shanxi, said the city's daily clinical blood supply stood at around 600 to 700 units. But supplies of all blood types in the city have dropped sharply in recent days, posing a significant risk. There is a particularly severe shortage of type O blood.

The central blood station in Yueyang, Hunan, has also faced dwindling supplies due to an increase in respiratory infections during the cold weather.

One blood donor told People's Daily: "Blood cannot be manufactured, and supplies have an expiration date. Healthy individuals are relied on to donate regularly. Such donations do not harm donors, but encourage the formation of good habits."

China DailyShen Yi

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