A freezing cold front swept over much of northern China on Sunday with snowstorms snarling traffic and air travel, while some of the coldest temperatures in decades were forecast for coming days.
Snow storms were expected to continue through Monday as the mercury was set to plunge in the coming 48 hours, the Beijing meteorological station said.
Gale force winds sweeping down from Siberia could result in temperatures as low as minus 16 degrees Celsius (minus three degrees Fahrenheit) in the capital on Monday and Tuesday, it added.
According to the Beijing Youth Daily, such temperatures would be the coldest in the capital in 40 years.
On Sunday, major highways in Beijing and Tianjin, as well as in the surrounding provinces and regions of Hebei, Shanxi and Inner Mongolia were closed due to the heavy snowfall, China Central Television said.
Heavy snow hit Beijing on Sunday, stranding thousands of passengers at the Chinese capital's main airport and casting an unusual quiet over normally busy streets as people stayed out of the freezing weather.
A Reuters journalist at Beijing's Capital International Airport, the country's busiest, said dozens of flights were cancelled or delayed, though a few were still able to take off.
State television said most the highways out of Beijing were closed too, with several centimetres (inches) of snow blanketing roads and temperatures expected to touch lows of -14 Celcius (6.80F).
AGW = BS.