BEIJING, China - China is experiencing unusual chills this winter with its national average temperature hitting the lowest in 28 years, and snow and ice have closed highways, cancelled flights, stranded tourists and knocked out power in several provinces.
China Meteorological Administration on Friday said the national average was -3.8 degrees Celsius (25 degrees Fahrenheit) since late November, the coldest in nearly three decades.
The average temperature in northeast China dipped to -15.3 degrees C (4.5 degrees F), the coldest in 43 years, and dropped to a 42-year low of -7.4 degrees C (18.7 degrees F) in northern China.
In some areas — northeastern China, eastern Inner Mongolia, and north part of far-western Xinjiang province — the low has hit -40 degrees C (-40 degrees F), the administration said.
The state-run, English-language China Daily reported Friday that about 1,000 ships were stuck in ice in Laizhou Bay in eastern China's Bohai Sea.
The meteorological administration said Saturday that ice had covered 27,000 square meters (10,500 square miles) of the sea surface by Thursday, the most expansive since 2008 when authorities began to collect such data. The administration expects the ice to continue to grow.
In southwest China's Sichuan province, more than 1,000 tourists were stranded Wednesday in a scenic mountainous area because of icy road, the state-run Beijing News reported.
In southern China, snowstorms from Thursday night have disrupted air and road traffic.
In eastern China's Zhejiang province, at least eight flights were cancelled at an airport in Hangzhou city on Thursday, and authorities told state media the airport might be closed if the snow should continue. Utility workers also rushed to restore power in parts of the province, according to state media.
Several highways, including some sections of the Beijing-Hong Kong-Macao Expressway in central China's Hunan province, were closed Friday because of icy condition, state media reported.
An airport was temporarily shut down in Nanchang city in Jiangxi province, as workers were trying to clear ice and snow from its runway, state media said.
The national meteorological administration said China is seeing dropping temperatures partly because of south-moving polar cold fronts, caused by melting polar ice from global warming. It said the air is moist and likely to dump heavy snow in China, Europe and North America.
On Saturday, the forecast by China's National Meteorological Center said southern China would have more snow and rain in the coming days and that icy rain could hit some regions.