BEIJING, China (CNN) -- China has taken the step of asking millions of migrant workers to forego their annual Lunar New Year trip home, saying the worst winter weather in 50 years is expected to pummel the country for at least another three days.
Trucks are trapped at the Yunmeihua Exit on the Beijing-Zhuhai Highway in south China's Guangdong province.
"For the sake of their safety, and relieving the stress on transport, I advise migrant workers to stay in the cities where they work," Zheng Guogang, chief of the China Meteorological Administration, told the state newspaper, China Daily.
The trip is often the only bright spot for workers who toil all year long in factories far from home. For an estimated 178 million people -- the size of the combined population of Italy, France and Britain -- the annual trek is sometimes the only opportunity to see family that they leave behind. This year, the holiday begins February 6.
On Thursday, crowds thinned -- but only slightly -- at China's major train stations. Masses of desperate travelers took advantage of the break in the weather and crammed into buses to carry them out of their misery. In southeastern Hunan province, trains that had been stranded for 40 hours finally began rolling.
NVDL: The Lunar New Year is a major big deal in the East. It's like Christmas in the West. Everyone goes home and spends time with their familiers, and there are several cultural/traditional activities around this time of the year.