China Grapples with Snowstorms Disrupting Lunar New Year Travel

snowstorms and freezing rain have wreaked havoc on transportation networks in China

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3 Days of Consecutive Snowing Has Wreaked Havoc on Transportation

As China prepares to celebrate the Lunar New Year, snowstorms and freezing rain have wreaked havoc on transportation networks, affecting millions of travelers across the country.

The onset of heavy snowfall and freezing conditions has led to the cancellation of hundreds of flights and train services, leaving motorists stranded on frozen highways for days. This disruption comes at a time when millions of people are undertaking the annual pilgrimage to their hometowns to celebrate the Lunar New Year with their families.

The Lunar New Year holiday typically triggers the largest annual human migration in China, with millions of people embarking on journeys to reunite with loved ones. This year, the volume of travel has surged by 40% compared to the previous year, reaching an estimated 480 million trips, following the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions over the past year.

China’s meteorological service has issued warnings of the most severe winter weather since 2008, particularly affecting the central region of the country, including provinces such as Hebei, Hubei, and Anhui. Social media platforms have been inundated with posts from stranded travelers lamenting the bitter cold that has disrupted their plans for family reunions.

Despite the challenges, stories of resilience and compassion have emerged. Citizens have come together to support those stranded on icy roads, with acts of kindness ranging from delivering food and hot water to using pulley systems to refill water bottles for stranded commuters.

However, the adverse weather conditions have also led to tragic incidents, including a roof collapse in Hunan province that resulted in one fatality and multiple injuries.

In response to the crisis, China’s central government has announced plans to allocate 141 million yuan ($20 million) to fund urgent snow removal efforts and related work in affected provinces.

While the freezing weather is expected to abate in the coming days, authorities remain vigilant, with snowfall forecasted to continue in south and central China. Nevertheless, hopes remain high for a return to warmer weather by the end of the week.