China winter weather latest developments

Wed Jan 19, 2011 6:06am EST

A man is seen beneath an umbrella as he walks past vehicles amid snowfall in Changsha, Hunan province January 19, 2011. REUTERS/China Daily (CHINA - Tags: ENVIRONMENT TRANSPORT IMAGES OF THE DAY) CHINA OUT.

A man is seen beneath an umbrella as he walks past vehicles amid snowfall in Changsha, Hunan province January 19, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/China Daily (CHINA - Tags: ENVIRONMENT TRANSPORT IMAGES OF THE DAY) CHINA OUT.

(Reuters) - Harsh winter weather across parts of China could disrupt transport and strain energy supplies. Here is a summary of major weather developments and their impact.

This factbox will be updated frequently throughout the winter.

WEDNESDAY, JAN 19

Freezing rain and snow continue to hit southern China, while parts of northern China are experiencing bitter cold. One part of Inner Mongolia has recorded lows of minus 46 degrees Celsius for the last 8 days.

In the southern provinces of Guizhou and Hunan, the cold weather is likely to disrupt China's annual Spring Festival travel rush, which officially begins on Wednesday with hundreds of millions of people planning trips in the coming 40 days.

In the northern province of Hebei, the weather bureau said the recent cold weather and an ongoing drought have had little impact on the winter wheat crop, thanks to early irrigation efforts. Hebei is China's second-largest wheat growing area.

TUESDAY, JAN 18

More snow and rain hit southwestern China, where temperatures plummeted by as much as 11 degrees Celsius. Icy rain is expected to hit the provinces of Guizhou and Hunan.

In Guizhou, 1,300 passengers were stranded after Guiyang airport cancelled dozens of flights due to the freezing snow, state television reported.

Thirty-five percent of the Bohai Sea off China's east coast was covered by ice as a new cold snap hit eastern and southern China.

Around 2.2 million people are facing a shortage of drinking water due to a severe drought in parts of central, southern and eastern China, with some cities starting to run low on supplies, state media said on Monday.

MONDAY, JAN 17

A new cold front bringing snow and rain will hit most parts of southern China this week, which could cause travel problems ahead of the annual rush home for the lunar new year holiday next month.

Some highways have been closed due to freezing ice in the provinces and regions of Guizhou, Chongqing and Yunnan.

China's export hub of Guangdong will also face power shortages because of insufficient generating capacity.

SUNDAY, JAN 16

Temperatures dropped to minus 40 degrees Celsius in northern China on Saturday.

In Yichun city of Heilongjiang province, temperatures dropped to minus 45 degrees Celsius, the lowest temperature on record for that area.

A new cold snap is likely to be much stronger than the last one in early January and will affect most parts of southern China beginning Sunday after temperature rose slightly in the past few days.

Freezing rain is expected to hit some parts of southern regions such as Yunan, Guizhou, Hunan and Guangxi.

Officials said inclement weather could cause delays during the huge travel rush starting next week ahead of the Lunar New Year holidays.

FRIDAY, JAN 14

China's central and eastern provinces will see temperatures drop by up to eight degrees Celsius.

Freezing rain is likely to hit western portions of the southwestern province of Guizhou over the next three days, with temperatures expected to fall to minus five degrees Celsius.

Heavy snow is expected in Tibet and the northwestern portions of Yunnan province.

Aside from low temperatures, northern China is also facing a drought.

No rain has fallen in Beijing or Shandong, Hebei and Henan provinces for three to four months, causing water shortages for winter wheat. No precipitation is forecast in the arid region in the next 10 days.

THURSDAY, JAN 13

Most parts of China are slowing starting to warm up, but another round of cold weather is likely to hit central and eastern provinces with temperature falling eight to ten degrees Celsius from Friday.

In Hunan, Guangxi and Guizhou, temperatures are four to eight degrees Celsius higher than on Wednesday, reaching above zero. But it may drop below freezing again by the weekend.

In the southern part of Sichuan province, heavy snow damaged power lines late Tuesday night and left nearly 1,000 families without electricity.

In Fujian, Yunnan, Guangxi and Xinjiang, the cold snap has discouraged people from donating blood, causing a shortage of blood supplies, the official Xinhua news agency reported. (Editing by Ben Blanchard)