New Year travellers brace for extreme weather

As travellers head home to celebrate Chinese New Year, snow and rain will blanket large parts of the nation. 

From 31 January to 6 February, the central and eastern regions will experience precipitation over a longer period and wider area than any this winter, according to China Weather.

These will be the “most complex weather conditions during the New Year travel rush since 2008,” a year marked by a snowstorm that resulted in at least 129 deaths in China. Though the weather will not be as dangerous as back then, notes Sina Finance.

This year’s will be the busiest ever Chinese New Year travel rush, with an anticipated 9 billion trips being made in 40 days. The extreme weather will pose particular challenges to already stretched railways, highways and airports. 

Moreover, the central regions, especially Hubei and Henan which usually serve as crucial transport hubs, will be worst affected by the adverse weather.

Regarding heavy snowfall events, there is low confidence on how climate change has affected it globally, according to a World Weather Attribution report published in 2022. But because warmer air holds more moisture, snow may have intensified in places where it remains cold enough for it to settle, including parts of East and North Asia, the report found. Research published in Scientific Reports in 2021 also shows an intensification of extreme snowfall across large areas of the northern hemisphere under future climate change. 

The China Meteorological Administration (CMA) has warned local governments to “closely monitor and promptly address” potential transport and power disruptions caused by the weather.

Read China Dialogue’s report from last year on how to improve China’s extreme weather response.