A boy enjoys the snow at the Yuyuan Garden shopping complex in Shanghai yesterday. (Wang Rongjiang/SHINE)
Flights and trains were canceled as Shanghai witnessed its heaviest fall of snow for at least five years.
A yellow alert for snowstorms was released at 12:43pm yesterday, forecasting up to 10 millimeters of snow within 12 hours. The last time the city had a yellow alert was in 2013.
The air traffic controller issued a yellow alert for potential delays at both airports, with takeoff and landing capacity at both expected to be reduced by 30 percent from 7am yesterday to 1am today.
Due to the freezing and snowy weather, some 20 flights were canceled and over 40 delayed at Shanghai's two airports on Wednesday morning.
Shanghai Airport Authority officials had earlier helped to defrost 23 aircraft at Pudong and 63 at Hongqiao by spraying melting agents on planes covered in snow.
To avoid massive delays, 11 snow blower vehicles have been standing by at both airports along with vehicles to spray melting agents on runways. A total of 90 tons of melting agents and 30 tons of industrial salt have been prepared.
On the railways, over 200 trains due to leave from the city's three railway stations for Anhui, Jiangsu and Beijing yesterday and today face cancelations, according to Shanghai Railway Bureau.
Snow will cease today, forecasters said, but freezing temperatures will still grip the city. Morning temperatures in downtown areas will hover around zero degrees Celsius, and reach minus 2 degrees in suburban areas.
Forecasters added that snowstorms were set to sweep into northern and western parts of the city overnight, including Qingpu, Jiading and Songjiang districts, with up to 10 centimeters of snow accumulating on roads.
The snow began to fall on Wednesday afternoon.
Qingpu District saw medium-to-heavy falls, with 4.2 centimeters of snow on the roads, according to Shanghai Meteorological Bureau.
For the first time since 2016, the city issued a yellow alert for ice on the roads on Wednesday night. The yellow alert for road icing was escalated to orange at 8:45pm last night, warning that big freezes on roads may greatly affect traffic this morning.
Drizzle will hit the city over the weekend, but Monday is expected to be dry. A cold snap will hit the city on Tuesday, lowering temperatures to minus 2 degrees.
In suburban Jiading District, where heavy snow was expected, district traffic police patrolling expressways said they had prepared enough industrial salt to deal with the situation, while the road administration bureau's snow-clearing vehicles were on standby at key spots.
Shanghai traffic police said at least 30 percent more police officers have been on duty around the city, and at key locations all available traffic police officers were on duty.
To ensure electricity supplies, State Grid Shanghai Electric Power Co has mobilized more than 3,000 workers to monitor operations to work around the clock since Wednesday.
Huaxin Substation, which receives and transmits electric power from outside the city, was covered in snow yesterday. Workers were at the substation at dawn to clear the snow.
Firefighters in Jiading District worked yesterday with State Grid workers to ensure Xuhang substation didn't freeze up.
"After the lesson of the heavy snow in 2008, we have input more manpower every year around this time," said Cui Pengcheng, of the State Grid's maintenance department.
According to the State Grid, the power load of the city next week will keep increasing due to the cold front. The peak is estimated to reach 25.5 to 26 million kilowatts. But the maximum load that the city's power company can offer is 27.5 million kilowatts.
Eighteen rescue stations across the city have stepped up street patrols around the clock to ensure homeless people and beggars get free meals, accommodation and necessary medical treatment as temperatures plummet, the city's civil affairs authorities said.
For those who don't want to go to rescue stations, hot water, instant noodles and quilts are being distributed. Free tickets to help the homeless and beggars to return home are also offered.
Residents are encouraged to call 110, 962200 or 12319 if they see homeless people who need help.
Neighborhood committee officials have been ordered to visit elderly people living alone and provide help if needed. Senior care homes across the city have been ordered to conduct a 24-hour shift system and turn on air-conditioning and heating by the Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau.
The local agricultural commission said it will strengthen protection of vegetable greenhouses.
Farmers have been told to clean ditches to ensure good drainage and avoid flooding in the fields.