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Blizzards far less severe than those of a decade ago, forecaster says
The current freezing temperatures and icy conditions in central and eastern regions will continue until Saturday, but things will be less severe overall than the disastrous blizzard of early 2008, the national weather authority said on Monday.
Since Jan 23, blizzards with a mix of snow and rain have swept across 22 provinces in central, eastern and southern regions, bringing snow squalls and disrupting traffic, with the provinces of Hubei, Anhui, Hunan, Jiangsu and Jiangxi hit especially hard, the National Meteorological Center said.
The blizzards have weakened since Sunday, but the freezing cold and ice are expected to last until Saturday, said Zhang Tao, chief forecaster from the center, adding that in some cities snow accumulations have exceeded 10 centimeters including in Hangzhou in Zhejiang province.
In Hunan, one of the worst hit regions, over 4.6 million people have been affected by continuous snow since Thursday, and direct economic losses have reached 440 million yuan ($69.5 million) as of Sunday, the provincial civil affairs department said.
Frequent blizzards, frigid temperatures, icy roads and disrupted traffic have been seen in central and southern regions, reminding people of the disasters brought by snow and ice in 2008.
From Jan 10 to Feb 12, 2008, blizzards swept through 21 provinces, causing 107 deaths and damaging over 354,000 homes, with direct economic losses reaching 111 billion yuan, data from the Ministry of Civil Affairs showed.
"But the results from this current bout of weather (from Jan 23 to 28) were far from the severe impact in 2008," said Zhang, the chief forecaster.
In January 2008, four blizzard events hit the central and southern regions one after the other, but this month only one bout appeared, making the impact far less severe, said Zhang, adding: "In the coming week, though it will still be freezing, no snow will hit the region."
Furthermore, since the disastrous 2008 blizzards, weather authorities nationwide have promoted better forecasting technologies, and improved the emergency information exchange system, he said.
"In 2008, it was beyond our capacity to forecast the weather situation more than 10 days ahead, but now we possess a clearer picture of the weather for up to 20 days," Zhang said. "So we now have forecasts that no snow will come in early February, thus freeing these regions from the risk of suffering severe results like those seen in 2008."
In addition, after high red and orange snowstorm or cold front alerts were initiated, authorities in meteorological, traffic, civil affairs and other related areas now undertake joint efforts to reduce negative impacts, he said.
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