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Authorities Told to Get Ready for Heavy Fog

Meteorologists have said there will be a respite from snow and sleet in the southern part of China for the Spring Festival but warned that dense fogs are set to follow.

Zheng Guoguang, head of the China Meteorological Administration (CMA), warned authorities in areas already hit by 20 days of snowy weather to be prepared.

Since January 10 sleet, snow and ice has affected the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River.

"Such extreme weather conditions generally only take place every 50 to 100 years, and only in some localities," Zheng said.

"The government attaches great importance to responding to this kind of extreme weather."

Soon after the CMA issued its forecast on January 8, the State Council issued an urgent notice to all local governments instructing them to prepare for the storms.

The CMA launched a grade 2 emergency-response plan on Jan. 25 and a grade 3 plan on Jan. 27.

The CMA has sent taskforces to Guizhou and Hunan provinces, which have been hit hardest by the inclement weather.

"The CMA joined forces with many other governmental departments, including railways, transport, power supply, civil aviation, safety and security, and civil affairs," Zheng said.

"The administration did its utmost to ensure the public had access to the latest information, forecasts, warnings and advisories."

Zheng, blamed the La Nina phenomenon and abnormal atmospheric conditions for the inclement weather that has ravaged many parts of the country.

La Nina is a large body of unusually cold water in the equatorial Pacific Ocean that develops every few years and influences global weather patterns.

It is the climatic opposite of El Nino, a warming of the Pacific.

Zheng said La Nina conditions developed in August and strengthened at the fastest pace in 56 years.

The average sea-surface temperature during the past six months was half of 1 degree Celsius lower than normal, he said.

(China Daily February 5, 2008)

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