In China, fog hits shipping, snow, freezing rain crimps holiday travel

By Reuters

February 1, 2024 at 1:00 PM

BEIJING (Reuters) -Heavy fog suspended ships travelling through the Qiongzhou Strait off the coast of China's Guangdong province on Wednesday, while snow and freezing rain across many parts of the country is expected to strain travel for millions over the next few days.

The bad weather is hitting the country as millions of Chinese take to the highways, high-speed trains and airports during the 40-day Lunar New Year travel rush, which started Jan. 26, one of the world's biggest mass migration movements.

Several ports started to suspend the flow of ship traffic late Tuesday because of heavy fog, state broadcaster CCTV news reported.

Earlier, the port cities of Beihai and Fangchenggang in the southwestern region of Guangxi, issued orange warning signals, citing dense fog and very low visibility in some areas, according to CCTV.

China has a three-tier colour-coded warning system for thick fog, with red being the most serious, followed by orange and yellow.

CCTV also reported that more than 100 airports across the country had issued haze and snow warnings. A mix of heavy snow and freezing rain is currently affecting several provinces, including Henan and Hubei, forcing the closure of several roads, CCTV reported.

The China Meteorological Administration (CMA) warned that freezing rain across the country will affect large stretches of highways, railways and flights, releasing a detailed country-wide map of the most-to-least dangerous affected highways.

From Feb. 1 to 4, forecasters expect freezing rain in several parts of Henan, Hubei, Anhui, Jiangsu, Shandong, Hunan and Guizhou provinces, and the city of Chongqing.

The wide-ranging rain, snow and cold temperatures hitting central and eastern China from Jan. 31 to Feb. 5, forecast by CMA as the strongest since 2009, is reminiscent of the 2008 winter storms.

Then, a cold snap and blizzards affected large parts of southern and central China between late January and early February, paralysing transportation, suspending business production and pressing a pause button on business activities.

China's official non-manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index, a barometer of business sentiment in the services sector, fell sharply to 46.9 in February 2008 from 57.1 in the prior month, per data compiled by the website of state-owned Economic Daily. The 50 mark separates expansion and contraction.

Direct economic losses reached 151.65 billion yuan ($21.1 billion) that winter, China's worst in half a century.

($1 = 7.1785 Chinese yuan renminbi)

(Reporting by Bernard Orr, Qiaoyi Li and Shanghai newsroom; Editing by Stephen Coates and Christian Schmollinger)


Reuters is a news agency owned by Thomson Reuters Corporation. It employs around 2,500 journalists and 600 photojournalists in about 200 locations worldwide. Reuters is one of the largest news agencies in the world.

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