Cold weather hinders Chinese New Year travelers

Snow and icy roads are causing travel woes in southern and eastern China ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday, which unleashes the world's biggest annual human migration.

Snow and freezing rain at airports in China's eastern cities of Hangzhou and southwestern region of Chongqing stranded hundreds of travelers this week, the official Xinhua News Agency reported Thursday.

Heavy snow and ice hit the regions of eastern, central and southwestern China this week, slowing traffic, delaying flights and shutting off power, the report said. In the southern region of Yunnan, snow and ice shut down power stations in eight cities.

About 230 million people are expected to travel during the Lunar New Year holiday season. For many Chinese, it's the only visit home during the year.

The official travel season began this week and ends Feb. 27, with the Lunar New Year falling on Feb. 3.

In previous years, snowstorms have stranded millions of workers and students traveling home.

More snow and sleet is expected for parts of northern and western China through Sunday, the National Meteorological Station said.