Northern regions are likely to see more frequent and severe sandstorms in the spring, the China Meteorological Administration (CMA) said yesterday.
"Sandstorm days" are expected to increase significantly in the eastern Inner Mongolia and northern Hebei regions, it said.
Eastern regions are also forecast to receive less rain than last year.
Several areas, including parts of Jilin and Liaoning provinces, are prone to "relatively severe" droughts in the season. As a result, local forestry authorities should raise the fire alarm level, the CMA said.
Meteorologists said the grim forecasts were related to the La Nina phenomenon and abnormal atmospheric circulation, and would prevail until the summer.
La Nina is a large pool of unusually cold water in the equatorial Pacific that develops every few years, affecting global weather.
The latest development of La Nina was the cause of rare, prolonged snowstorms and low temperatures that devastated many parts of the country last month, experts said.
The extreme weather killed 107 people and forced 1.5 million to relocate. The economic loss was put at 111 billion yuan ($15.3 billion), the Ministry of Civil Affairs said.
"Losses will keep rising if we don't improve weather forecasting," said Jiao Meiyan, the director of the National Meteorological Center.
She said forecasters did predict heavy snow, but failed to say how long it would last, how much would fall and what impact it would have on traffic and power supplies. She urged authorities to make weather information more readily available and suggested power supply, traffic and construction departments cooperate with weather officials to carry out studies to ensure they can cope with harsh weather.
（英语点津 Celene 编辑）
About the broadcaster:
Bernice Chan is a foreign expert at China Daily Website. Originally from Vancouver, Canada, Bernice has written for newspapers and magazines in Hong Kong and most recently worked as a broadcaster for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, producing current affairs shows and documentaries.