BEIJING, Jan. 6 -- A cold wave across much of China since Saturday has brought heavy snow to major cities in the north, causing a surge in fuel demand and traffic chaos on roads and at airports.
As the cold front moved southeastward, Hangzhou city in Zhejiang province began rationing gas supplies for industrial users.
As the maximum temperature on Tuesday dropped to 4 C, the local government announced the city's daily natural gas supplies would be 300,000 cubic meters short of demand if the weather persisted.
Over the New Year holiday (Jan 1-3), the country's daily electricity generation reached 11 billion kilowatt-hours, up 27 percent from the corresponding period last year, according to the State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC), the leading power grid operator.
Central and eastern China provinces were reporting shortages of power-generation coal and some cities had restricted power supplies.
Experts attributed the strain on power supplies to the resurgent economy and a demand for heating, which would continue for the winter.
Ge Xubo, chief engineer of the State Grid Energy Research Institute, said the SGCC would expand transmission between provinces to assist those short of electricity.
He said long-distance transmission lines would start trial operations this month, which should improve distribution, but he gave no details on exactly when the new lines would be put to use.
Zhou Gang, director of the SGCC safety inspection department, said no power grid failures had been reported in north China due to the heavy snow over the New Year holiday. "Grids in other regions are operating normally."
He said the SGCC had implemented contingency plans with power companies in Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei and Shanxi provinces before the severe weather hit.
In Beijing, more than 3,000 staff at the SGCC's Beijing Electric Power Company were working when the snow began. An extra 799 vehicles for emergencies were on duty to repair damaged power lines, said Zhou.
Traffic authorities, postal services and ministries were working to maintain order as the weather caused major traffic problems.
By 11 pm Monday, some sections on 14 highways in Tianjin, Hebei, Shandong and Inner Mongolia were still closed due to snow, a statement by the Ministry of Transport said Tuesday.
The ministry also called on local traffic authorities to make "all-out efforts" to clear snow and ensure traffic continued to flow.
Beijing saw its biggest snowfall in six decades Sunday. More than 7,000 traffic police were deployed on major roads Monday and more than 5,000 volunteers to keep order on crowded bus stops, said Song Jianguo, head of the Beijing Traffic Management Bureau.
The Ministry of Agriculture sent teams to Hebei, Liaoning, Jiangsu, Anhui, Shandong, Henan and Guangdong provinces and Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region to help farmers reinforce greenhouses against the snow.