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Hundreds of millions of mainlanders returning to their jobs after the Lunar New Year festival are likely to get caught in freezing weather.

A massive cold front is expected to move

south from the north and west, sending temperature plunging by up to 14 degrees Celsius in various parts of the country.

Beijingers will also have the added headache of snarled traffic, with drivers advised to steer clear of key intersections.

READ MORE: Stricter security at Chinese train stations as millions continue Lunar New Year exodus

The cold front is expected to affect most parts of the central and east mainland for three days beginning on Sunday, said the country’s official weather forecaster.

The areas will likely see rainfall and snow, causing temperatures to fall by between 6 degrees and 4 degrees, according to the China Meteorological Administration. Northern Xinjiang has seen up to 10mm of snowfall across a nearly 24 hour period since Wednesday morning.

Up to 7mm is expected over the weekend in parts of the north, including Shanxi, Ningxia as well as Gansu in the west.

READ MORE: Bittersweet Chinese Lunar New Year holiday: migrant workers sent home early as factories struggle with economic downturn

The Yangtze River Delta is expected to see thunderstorms and sleet, as temperatures fall to about zero degrees. A drop of up to 14 degrees is expected in parts of Inner Mongolia.

Passengers are advised to take precautions before setting out.

Beijing is expected to see a severe traffic jam during peak hours on Friday and Saturday afternoon, said the city’s traffic administrator. Drivers should go around certain key intersections on the outskirts of the city.

READ MORE: Stricter security at Chinese train stations as millions continue Lunar New Year exodus

The weather could significantly slow down public transportation. More than 100,000 people were stuck at Guangzhou’s railway ­station last Monday, facing long delays amid icy rain, as ­millions made their way home for the Lunar New Year.

READ MORE: Bittersweet Chinese Lunar New Year holiday: migrant workers sent home early as factories struggle with economic downturn

Rain and snow in the north ­delayed the arrival of trains in the southern provincial capital, leaving passengers stranded at the station. The official holiday began on February 7 and ends on February 13. But the mass migration began earlier – on January 24 – and will run 40 days to March 3. Some 2.8 billion domestic trips are expected to be made during the period.