“Hundreds of flights and trains have been canceled as China’s most important holiday approaches, and more bad weather is in the forecast,” reports the New York Times. “Snow and freezing rain in China were disrupting travel on Monday and had already caused hundreds of rail and flight cancellations, as millions of people traveled across the country before lunar new year holiday begins this weekend.”
The Lunar New Year “Spring Festival,” historically represents the worlds largest annual migration of people as hundreds of millions of people travel within and into China to celebrate. An additional 2,500 international flights had been scheduled by China’s aviation regulators with rail transport authorities planning for more than 480 million trips by rail during the forty-day period, a 40 percent increase above normal traffic. But the extreme winter weather is expected to disrupt much of the planned travel. Snow and ice are already having an impact, according to the New York Times, which writes:
The National Meteorological Center issued warnings in recent days for snowstorms and blizzards in several provinces and cities in central and eastern China, including Chongqing, Guizhou, Hubei, and Anhui. Transport officials have deployed thousands of employees to shovel snow and defrost railways and roads. Police officers helped push cars trapped by the frozen roads. Nearly 100 highway toll stations in Anhui have blocked cars from entering because of snow and freezing conditions.
The extended storm has already resulted in a number of trains being pulled from service, and train speeds are being slowed on other routes. At major airports, hundreds of flights have been cancelled and delayed due to the closure of some runways.