China rules out "Spring Festival" snow storm repeat

Fri Jan 23, 2009 3:41am EST
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BEIJING (Reuters) - China does not expect a repeat this Lunar New Year of the snow storms which caused travel chaos and misery for millions of Chinese heading home for last year's "Spring Festival," the government said Friday.

Unseasonably cold weather and ice storms across central and southern China last year killed at least 129 people, caused transport chaos and cut off power and water for millions as people struggled to get home for Chinese New Year. "It ought to be said that the situation this year compared with last year is very different," said Zhai Panmao, head of the China Meteorological Administration's Prediction and Disaster Mitigation Department.

"This year everyone can feel that there is much less snow, and in the south incidents of freezing cold and rain and snow have been localized and short-lasting," he told a news conference carried live on government website

Zhai said that there would be some snow in parts of southwestern Yunnan and Sichuan provinces, but nothing out of the ordinary.

"Generally speaking over the Spring Festival the weather will be quite stable over most of the country, and temperatures will start to warm up. The cold air currently affecting China will basically lift on New Year's Eve," he added.

The Year of the Ox starts Monday.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Nick Macfie)

<p>A fisherman makes a hole in a frozen canal using an ice-pick, in central Beijing January 23, 2009. REUTERS/David Gray</p>