China issues first Orange alert for freezing rain and snow since 2010

China issues first Orange alert for freezing rain and snow since 2010

China’s meteorological authority issued the country’s first orange alert for freezing since 2010 on February 1, 2024, signaling expanding and intensifying freezing rain and snow. The severe weather, affecting areas from Henan to Chongqing, poses significant challenges to transportation in central China amidst the Spring Festival travel rush.

China’s National Meteorological Center issued its first Orange alert for freezing rain and snow since the warning system’s inception in 2010. The alert, announced on Thursday, February 1, 2024, forecasts an escalation in severe weather conditions across central China, with the situation expected to deteriorate further over the next three days.

Regions earmarked for the most significant impact include southern Henan, Hubei, central and northern Anhui, northern Jiangsu, central and northern Hunan, eastern Guizhou, and southeastern Chongqing. This widespread weather event is anticipated to pose considerable challenges to transportation networks, potentially complicating the ongoing Spring Festival travel rush—a critical period for millions traveling to reunite with family.

China’s three-tier, color-coded freezing warning system designates red as the most severe condition, followed by orange, and then yellow. Prior to this unprecedented orange alert, only two yellow alerts for freezing conditions had been issued: one in February 2013 and another in December of the previous year.

A Blue alert for heavy snow was renewed on Wednesday, January 31, targeting areas such as Shaanxi, Shanxi, Hebei, Henan, Shandong, and Jiangsu. These regions are expected to experience snowstorms delivering between 2 cm to 5 cm (0.8 – 2 inches) of snow, exacerbating conditions during one of the busiest travel seasons in the country.

The Ministry of Emergency Management has underscored the severity of the current weather patterns, comparing the strength of this winter’s conditions to the most severe weather experienced since 2009. In response, a Level IV emergency response has been activated for affected provinces including Hebei, Shanxi, Jiangsu, Shandong, Henan, Hubei, and Shaanxi. This level of response, while being the least severe in China’s system, calls for heightened caution among pedestrians and drivers alike.

Authorities across the affected regions have been instructed to bolster rescue operations, secure supplies, and prepare for disaster relief efforts well in advance. The Ministry has emphasized the importance of a rigorous response to the emergency, aiming to mitigate the impact on roads, railways, electricity, and telecommunications infrastructure, and to strictly prevent casualties and significant property losses.

References:

1 China issues first orange alert for freezing weather – China Daily – February 1, 2024

2 China issues warning for strongest winter weather since 2009 during Spring Festival travel – The Watchers – January 31, 2024

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