Heavy snowstorm blankets northwest China

Winter takes hold with a determined fall of snow in China's northwest autonomous region of Xinjiang Uighur.

| Weather, Snow, Asia

A 24-hour snowstorm has been sweeping northwest China's Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. Snow collected to a record depth of 37 centimetres in the capital city of Urumqi.

The storm forced many cars to stop as the visibility dropped to 100 metres. The airport in Urumqi, Diwopu International Airport, had to shut its runways, with at least 70 flights delayed and 55 cancelled.

Near the region's northern border city of Ili, traffic police set multiple checkpoints on the mountain roads to check passing vehicles were equipped to drive in the snowy conditions.

"Traffic police had informed us earlier that we must put on tyre chains. So I am putting them back on now," said Ma Zhentian, a driver.

The Tekes Daban stretch of Xinjiang's provincial road 202 is very dangerous with steep sections and tight turns. In snowy weather vehicles must have snow tyres or chains attached to maintain grip. The road is currently closed to large and medium-sized trucks. "We will not let them go up this road because it is already frozen," said Talas, a traffic police officer.

Public transport was not always able to cope but passengers were kept warm by pushing buses that could not get a grip in the suddenly slippery conditions.

With snow on the ground, temperatures usually drop and Saturday night was no exception. A reading of minus 11C was taken in the city of Urumqi, a level of cold last seen a little more than a year ago.

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