A girl makes snowballs in Beijing Nov. 1, 2009. The city's first snowfall this winter started Saturday night, bringing fresh air to locals as well as a sharp drop in temperature. (Xinhua/Wang Jianhua)
BEIJING, Nov. 1 (Xinhua) -- Biting cold and strong wind gripped Chinese provinces on Sunday as Beijing embraced its first snowfall this winter.
National Meteorological Center issued an orange alert against cold front Sunday morning, forecasting strong winds and temperature plummet in north, central and east China.
A man walks against the snow in Beijing Nov. 1, 2009. The city's first snowfall this winter started Saturday night, bringing fresh air to locals as well as a sharp drop in temperature. (Xinhua/Jin Liangkuai)
A temperature drop of as many as 14 degrees Celsius is expected in some parts in the north and east.
In the eastern Shandong Province, passenger shipping service between Yantai to Dalian cities were suspended on Sunday due to cold front and strong winds.
The northern Tianjin Municipality embraced its first snow this year. As of 12:00 a.m., the maximum snow depth measured 9.3 millimeters.
Snowstorms slashed the northeastern Jilin Province, collapsing trees and disrupting flights. In Yanji City, more than 5,455 hectares of cropland have been damaged by the blizzard.
Shaanxi Province in the northwest, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region in the north, Shanghai and Jiangsu Province in the east also reported drastic drop of temperature.
In Beijing, a snow, which started in the wee hours and got heavier in the morning, covered most of the city proper, capping roofs and lawn in every neighborhood.
The snow stopped and sky cleared in the afternoon.
Beijing Weather Modification Office said they had used artificial means to increase the snow to ease the lingering drought.
"We wont miss any opportunity of artificial precipitation since Beijing is suffering from the lingering drought," said Zhang Qiang, who is in charge of the office.
Zhang said more than 16 million tonnes of snow had been artificially added according to the preliminary calculation.
"We have used a total of 186 doses of silver iodide since 8:00 p.m. on Saturday," she said.
The snow brought unexpected fun and joy to tourists in Beijing.
In Xiangshan Mountain on the outskirts of Beijing, a tourist attraction famous for red maple leaves in autumn, visitors were in high spirits.
"I am so lucky to see the picturesque landscape," said a tourist from the southeastern Fujian Province where snow is rare. "The fiery-red maple leaves were much more beautiful against the backdrop of the falling snow."
The snow, which local media called a "gift", however, is expected to bring troubles to the city's traffic.
"Snowfall and wet roads will definitely cause traffic jam to the city," said a local taxi driver surnamed Xia. "But luckily it's Sunday today when most people do not have to go to work. Or it could have been worse."
As of 4:00 p.m., Beijing has reported no major traffic jam and all the city's highway have been open to traffic.
Five bus routes to the mountainous areas at Beijing's suburbs had been suspended for safety concerns, the city's bus company said.
According to officials with the Beijing Capital International Airport, as of 11:30 a.m., more than 100 flights have been delayed up to 1 hour and some have been canceled because of the weather.
The airport has activated an emergency plan to handle the stranded passengers.
In the afternoon, planes could be seen waiting on the airstrips, waiting to be deiced before taking off.
"I have been waiting for 3 hours in the airport's departure lounge and another 4 hours aboard the plane," said a man surnamed Cao, sitting in his seat on a plane heading for Wuhan City.
"I did not expect that the snow would have brought me such a big trouble," he added.
With the snow came a temperature plummet and strong winds.
The lowest air temperature in Beijing is expected to touch minus three degrees Celsius.
Beijing Municipal Meteorological Observatory issued a warning against strong cold front Saturday night.
"With the advent of the strong cold front, Beijing sees its first snow two months earlier than last year," said Guo Hu, head of the observatory.
Guo Weiqi, an official with the city's municipal government said the city would provide heating service for local residents from Sunday, six days ahead of schedule.