A powerful cold front was forecast to sweep through vast areas of China from north to south for nine days starting Sunday, bringing a mix of snow, sleet and lower temperatures.
Central and eastern residents, who have so far been enjoying a warming January, will experience freezing winds and blizzards for the rest of this month, the National Meteorological Center said on Sunday.
"From Monday to Friday, the vast central and eastern regions will see a major drop in temperature, up to 14 degrees, turning the warmer January into a colder one," said Zhang Fanghua, the center"s chief forecaster, who added that chilly gusts will make people feel even colder. The average daily temperature until Sunday in these regions has been higher than the average level in the past 30 years, according to data from the center, but the cold front is expected to send it below the average level by 2 to 5 degrees. In addition, after the cold front fades on Friday, a new bout will arrive one day later to keep the freezing weather around until the end of the month, she said.
In the nine days of severe winter weather, residents in Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces - which are near Shanghai and do not have central heating - will experience blizzards with accumulated snow reaching up to 60 millimeters, the forecast showed.
Other central and eastern areas, including Shanxi, Henan, Hubei, Shandong, Hunan and Jiangxi provinces, are also expected to be hit by blizzards or a mix of rain and snow.
"The blizzards and gusts are forecast to reach a peak on Wednesday and Thursday," Zhang said.
The mix of snow and rainfall is forecast to hit areas in the southwest like Guizhou province, she said, adding that the vast region should take precautions to reduce the impact of the severe weather on traffic, agriculture and society.
Beijing residents may actually be craving the arrival of snow because there has been no major precipitation in the capital since Oct 23, the center"s data show.
"The average arrival date for snow in Beijing is Nov 29 based on records from 1981 to 2010," Zhang said.
The latest arrival in the past decade was in 2011, when snow started to fall on Feb 10.
The delay of the first snow in Beijing is mainly because warm and cold air has met south of Beijing, keeping the capital dry for a long time, she said.
If no snow falls on Sunday night, the capital may have to wait a few more days, Zhang added.