Parts of Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang provinces, as well as the Inner Mongolia in China’s northeast have been hit by the heaviest snowfall in 116 years. Over 51 cm (20 inches) of snow were recorded in Liaoning’s capital city of Shenyang.
State news agency Xinhua reported that this was the highest recorded snowfall the province had seen since record keeping began in 1905. Liaoning’s Anshan city also measured a snow depth of 53 cm (21 inches), the report added, citing China’s Meteorological Association.
As a result, traffic in Liaoning Province has been severely disrupted, with the majority of expressway toll stations shut down as of Tuesday, Nov. 9. Train and bus stations were also closed until further notice, with the exception of those in the large cities of Dalian and Dandong.
The heavy snowfall comes at a particularly bad time. China has been in the midst of a power crisis as coal prices have risen, leaving millions of homes and businesses without power.
The typically frigid province has seen a temperature drop of 14 degrees after a cold wave swept across China’s northeast on Sunday, Nov. 7.
Meteorologists in Liaoning and Jilin provinces issued 27 red alert warnings for heavy blizzards in the area — the highest warning level used in China’s meteorological system. Residents were urged to remain indoors and take extra precautions if they had to go outside.
The Communist Party-run Global Times reported that as of late Monday, one person had died and more than 5,600 residents were affected during the blizzard in Tongliao, Inner Mongolia.
Meteorological researchers in Tongliao also told Global Times on Tuesday that this snowstorm was an “extremely random and sudden extreme weather event” and not necessarily indicative that the winter would see a further uptick of snowfall.
Experts at China’s State Grid Corp are concerned the snowstorms could add further strain to an already delicate “tight balance” between power supply and demand through the upcoming winter months.