This post was edited by sansukong at 2013-1-11 09:41|
Cold in China kills about 180,000 cattle, threatens power
By Calum MacLeod, USA TODAY1:26a.m. EST January 10, 2013
BEIJING — The coldest winter in decades is causing blizzards in northern China and threatens electric power supplies in the south where the government is not used to dealing with such freezing temperatures, China media said Wednesday.
About 180,000 cattle have died in the north while hundreds of emergency shelters have opened in southern China to help people who do not have adequate housing or heat to survive the below-average cold.
The National Meteorological Center reiterated Wednesday that southern China will be under heavier-than-normal snow, rain and freezing temperatures for the next few days, according to the state-run Xinhua News Agency. Shelters equipped with quilts, coats and food have opened in Hefei, capital of Anhui province.
"You can find shelters and aid stations for the elderly and homeless in all communities and villages in our district," Zou Zhongxian, a civil affairs official in the city's Luyang district, told Xinhua.
Record cold has struck India as well, and even the Middle East.
The fiercest winter storm to hit the Middle East in years brought a rare foot of snow to Jordan on Wednesday, caused fatal accidents in Lebanon and the West Bank, and disrupted traffic on the Suez Canal in Egypt. At least eight people have died across the region.
In Israel, snow fell outside Jerusalem, an unusual occurrence.Three feet of snow fell on Mount Hermon, and flakes were falling in Nazareth as well as in Galilee. Several roads were closed in northern Israel because of heavy snowfall.
The Weather Underground reported that the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, where New Delhi is located, has seen temperatures fall to a low of 35.4 degrees on Sunday, and the high temperature a few days before was 49.6, the coldest daily high in 44 years.
In China, freezing weather has sent temperatures diving to a national average of 25 degrees Fahrenheit since Nov. 20, the lowest average temperature in 28 years, says the China Meteorological Administration (CMA).
In China's frozen northeast, where the city of Harbin hosts a popular snow and ice festival each winter, temperatures over the same period averaged minus 5 degrees, a 43-year low, according to the CMA.
The CMA said ice had covered 10,500 square miles of the sea surface, the most expansive since 2008, when authorities began to collect ice data, and it said the ice coverage will likely continue to grow.
Blizzards were forecast for western regions along the Yangtze and Huaihe rivers, as well as the northern part of southern China. Similar cold weather hit China in the winter of 2008, when more than 120 people died.
China Southern Power Grid was working to melt ice on power lines to prevent electricity outages, Wang Xiaochun, the company's publicity manager, told Chinese state media.
About 1 million people in normally temperate south China have been going through unusually cold weather in recent days.
Thousands of travelers have endured long delays as fog and frozen runways paralyzed airports. Hundreds of irate passengers berated staff at Kunming's airport last week, according to pictures on the Caixin magazine website.
Some trains have also been halted and several highways temporarily closed due to snow and ice.
In northern China's Inner Mongolia, record-low temperatures and heavy snow have left two people dead and affected 770,000 others, Xinhua reported. More than 260,000 people were in need of emergency aid.
In eastern Shandong province, more than 1,000 ships were stuck because of thick sea ice on Laizhou Bay. The government fretted over damage to late-season crops such as winter wheat. Prices for vegetable have jumped 55% in the past 10 weeks, reported the People's Daily newspaper.
The super-low temperatures are rare but will continue for some time, said Zhang Lansheng, 85, one of China's earliest environmental and climate experts. Compared with early 2008, when south China suffered a snow and ice "disaster" that caused widespread power outages and affected more than 100 million people,
China now boasts more experience and disaster readiness, he said, "but we need to increase the accuracy of weather forecasts, and different levels of government should improve emergency facilities and organize people to boost their ability to cope with disasters."
The weather has also exposed a decades-old debate about the lack of heating in south China. A line drawn in the 1950s split China into a northern half that built and still enjoys heavily subsidized public heating, and a southern half that shivers through winter without a public heating network and must make do with private, often less effective, heating devices.
Southerners are expressing their displeasure at what they view as an unfair and arbitrary divide. Businessman Qiu Jieping, a local adviser to the city government of Wuhan, blamed the lack of heating for a brain drain of young talent.
Dating show anchorman Meng Fei was among many Internet users to criticize Shen Herong, an equipment expert in eastern Jiangsu province, who said people in south China, accustomed to wet winters, may not adapt to life with indoor radiators.
"This topic is hotter this year," said Zhang, the climate change expert, who remembers the winter cold from many years living in Shanghai.
While some officials and energy experts suggest heating the south could endanger China's energy supply, Zhang hopes southern cities with enough financial resources can build heating networks with clean energy.
"I don't think the old way to divide the heating areas is good. But it's hard to change it now, so I don't think the south will be the same as the north anytime soon," he said.
Contributing: Sunny Yang