From Harbin in Northeast China's Heilongjiang province to the Aba Tibet and Qiang autonomous prefecture in Southwest China's Sichuan province, dozens of cities had their first snowfall of the year on Sunday.
For Beijing that meant its first snowfall came about 23 days earlier than usual. For decades it has usually fallen on or around Nov 29. China's National Meteorological Center on Sunday continued to issue an orange alert for snowstorms in some northern regions, the second-highest level.
That should spur various levels of local governments to make sure that people's livelihoods are not affected by the cold weather. Blizzards might disrupt daily services and the supply of goods if preparations are not in place. The production of vegetables might fall, while the roads might be impassable, which in turn requires responsible departments to coordinate more and ensure ample vegetable and grain supplies in supermarkets. The snow on electric wires must be cleaned to lower the possibility of power failures, while roads must be cleared to avoid any possible accidents.
Together with the snow comes a huge drop in temperature, which means vulnerable groups, such as the elderly and vagrants, might face difficulties. That requires social welfare departments to provide all possible assistance.
All these mean more pressure and a greater workload for officials. On Saturday, Beijing had already started providing its heating services, nine days earlier than in previous years. Behind that welcome warmth are the efforts of thousands of workers who stand in their posts amid the snow. Residents in the capital should offer thanks to them all.
The early arrival of snow often signals a very cold winter. How to cope with the difficulties and ensure that people stay safe and the disruptions to their daily lives are kept to a minimum will be a challenge to local governments at all levels. People will be hoping that they can do their jobs well.