China's National Meteorological Center (NMC) announced a warning Wednesday morning for snowstorms in southern China, predicting that temperatures could drop by 14 degrees Celsius, with cities such as Shanghai and Changsha to see temperatures hit thirty-year lows.
Cold air moving south will bring up to 30 mm of snow to regions along the Yangtze River from Wednesday to Saturday.
Beijing is forecast to see temperatures as low as minus 17 degrees Celsius, the lowest in almost three decades, but would only get a light sprinkling of snow.
In Zhejiang province, two days of heavy snow will see most places covered by a 15cm blanket. Hail is expected in mountainous southern areas.
Following a snowstorm alert, authorities in Zhejiang have even ordered the Qiandao Lake scenic area be temporarily closed.
Schools in Changsha and Changzhou have been told to start winter holiday a few days ahead of schedule, while education authorities in Hangzhou have allowed students not to come to school.
Agricultural authorities have warned farmers to add organic fertilizers to keep crops and vegetables from being damaged by frost and to reinforce plastic greenhouses. Nonetheless, farmers say losses are inevitable. "The temperature will stay below zero for several days. Only ten percent of my vegetables will survive," said Zhu Dazhi, a farmer in central China's Hunan province.
Electricity companies have made plans to remove ice from key facilities and authorities are taking precautions to prevent traffic jams, power failures and train or flight delays to reduce the impact as the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday comes near.
Extreme conditions similar to the winter storms of 2008 are unlikely, as the cold period will be shorter.
The south of China was hit by the worst blizzard in five decades in January and February 2008, leading to casualties, widespread traffic jams, blackouts and crop loss. The snow left 129 people dead and did 150 billion yuan (22.8 billion U.S. dollars) of damage.