Beijing embraces new year's first snow

created: 2010-01-04

Beijingers woke up to see the first snowfall of the new year Saturday, after nearly two months of drought.

The snow began before daybreak in Beijing and parts of the neighboring Tianjin Municipality and Hebei Province, the weather bureau said.

"I dozed off in my car after 3 am and woke up to see snow everywhere," said taxi driver Cheng Yong.

At 6 a.m., the snowfall measured less than 1 millimeter in the city proper. The mountainous areas in the western suburbs, however, received 2.9 millimeters of snow, Beijing Meteorological Bureau said on its website.

As of 2 pm, nearly 100 inbound and outbound flights were delayed at the Capital International Airport in the northeast of Beijing, airport authorities said.

The snow, which stopped in the downtown areas in the morning, was just a prelude to the cold snap that was expected to hit Beijing on Sunday and would last four or five days, the weather bureau said.

It said Saturday's maximum temperature would be around minus two degrees Celsius, and would drop to minus six Sunday, when most parts of the city would expect moderate snow.

The snow would be followed by strong wind and a significant temperature drop Tuesday through Thursday, when the low would fall under minus 15 -- the lowest in 40 years.

Before the New Year holiday, the bureau had forecast snow Saturday night and Sunday.

Beijing had this winter's first snowfall at the beginning of November but has stayed dry for nearly two months ever since.

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