Beijing shut some highways on Wednesday after heavier-than-expected snowfall hit the Chinese capital overnight.

A cold spell has been sweeping through swathes of China this week, with freezing rain and snow expected to last until Monday.

Beijing authorities boosted public transport and shut eight highways, state television CCTV said. While snow in urban areas had stopped, light snowfall continued in mountainous areas.

Tuesday evening's snowfall lasted longer and was heavier than forecast due to a rapid rise in water vapour in the capital after a confluence of humid air current from the south with a cold air mass that moved slowly eastward, the chief forecaster at the municipal observatory told Beijing Daily.

Almost 200 road sections were closed across the country due to the bad weather, CCTV said.

China's National Meteorological Center is predicting subzero temperatures for the days ahead around the country's central region, east, north, northwest as well as parts of the south.

(Reporting by Liz Lee and Shanghai newsroom; Editing by Stephen Coates)