Fog and haze blanket China, disrupting holiday travel plans for millions
Millions of Chinese travelers hoping to reunite with families for the Lunar New Year are facing potential disruptions as thick fog and haze shroud vast swathes of the country. The National Meteorological Center issued a yellow warning on Friday, predicting heavy fog and reduced visibility across areas from Hebei province in the north to southern Shanghai, impacting millions expected to travel over the next 24 hours.
The swirling blanket of white and grey, a familiar winter occurrence in many parts of China, comes at a particularly inconvenient time. With the Lunar New Year, the nation’s biggest holiday, just days away, roads, railways, and airports are expected to be at peak capacity. The potential for flight delays, road closures, and train cancellations due to poor visibility has prompted authorities to urge caution and contingency planning for travellers.
Airports Shrouded in Mystery: In major cities like Beijing, Tianjin, and Shanghai, visibility dropped to as low as 200 meters in some areas, prompting concerns about flight disruptions. Major airports issued warnings advising passengers to check flight schedules regularly and brace for potential delays. The iconic Beijing Daxing International Airport, designed to handle increased air traffic during peak periods, could face significant challenges if the fog persists.
Roads Turned Treacherous: Visibility concerns extend beyond the skies. Highways crisscrossing the affected regions are shrouded in fog, making driving hazardous. Traffic police have stepped up patrols, urging drivers to slow down, turn on headlights, and maintain adequate distance between vehicles. Travelers planning road trips are advised to adjust schedules or consider alternative modes of transportation.
Railways Running on Thin Ice: While fog tends to impact air and road travel more significantly, train delays are also a possibility. Railway authorities have activated emergency protocols, with reduced speeds and increased vigilance in foggy areas. Travelers are advised to be patient and prepared for potential delays or cancellations.
Authorities Take Action: Local governments in affected areas are taking measures to mitigate the impact of the fog. Emergency response teams are on standby to assist stranded travellers, and public advisories are being issued through various channels to keep citizens informed. Additionally, environmental authorities are investigating potential contributors to the haze, which often exacerbates the fog’s impact.
Uncertain Outlook: The weather forecast offers little respite for travellers, with the fog expected to linger through the weekend in some areas. The situation is particularly worrisome as travel volumes peak closer to the Lunar New Year on January 22. Millions of Chinese citizens undertake journeys across the country during this period, making it one of the largest mass migration events globally.
New Year Hopes Amidst the Haze: Despite the travel disruptions, the spirit of the Lunar New Year remains undimmed. For many, the holiday is a time for family reunions, shared meals, and celebrating new beginnings. Travellers are hoping that the fog will clear soon, allowing them to reach their destinations and join loved ones for a joyous Lunar New Year celebration.