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Cold winds portend end of warm autumn

A resident walks on a snow-covered bridge in Hulunbuir, Inner Mongolia autonomous region, on Monday. Snow fell as the temperature dropped to the freezing point in the city. [YU CHANGJUN/FOR CHINA DAILY]
 
A wave of cold air barreling across northern China will push down temperatures until Wednesday, bringing chilly winds to large parts of the country, the China Meteorological Administration said on Monday.
 
The frigid air was expected to reach Beijing on Monday evening, leading to a sharp drop in temperature to as low as 4 C on Tuesday, the coldest day this autumn.
 
The provincial capitals of Heilongjiang, Jilin and Shandong provinces are also projected to experience their coldest autumn days, after previous cold snaps had already sent the mercury down to levels lower than past years.
 
Temperatures in Northwest China, including the Ningxia Hui autonomous region and Shaanxi and Qinghai provinces, are set to plunge below zero under the influence of the cold air.
 
Small to moderate falls of snow and sleet were recorded across northeastern parts of the Inner Mongolia autonomous region and northern parts of Heilongjiang province on Monday and will continue through Wednesday morning.
 
Bao Wenrui, an employee at a bank in Hulunbuir, Inner Mongolia, said his drive back from a scenic spot out of town took two more hours on Sunday evening due to hailstones and snowfall.
 
"The low temperature froze snowflakes falling on the roads, rendering them quite slippery, so I slowed down intentionally out of safety concerns," he said.
 
He added that on Monday morning-the first working day after the National Day holiday-he saw no accidents or traffic congestion during his commute to work.
 
Stronger snow hit some regions in Qinghai province, the Tibet autonomous region and high-altitude areas in the Western Sichuan Plateau on Monday and is expected to last until Thursday.
 
Meanwhile, chilly winds and widespread rain have swept across large parts of southern and southwestern China, with parts of the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region and Yunnan and Sichuan provinces bracing for torrential rain on Monday.
 
Regional meteorological authorities in Yunnan province have issued yellow alerts-the third level of China's four-tier, color-coded warning system-for heavy rains, thunderstorms and hailstones.
 
The heavy rainfall is expected to stop on Wednesday or Thursday, said Fang Chong, chief forecaster at the National Meteorological Center.
 
The China Meteorological Administration has warned frequently of chilly air across the country recently and urged the public to stay warm to avoid catching the common cold.
 
By YUAN HUI/WANG XIAOYU
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