Floods un­likely to reach scale of 1998

China Daily (Canada) - - TOP NEWS - By XUWEI xuwei@chi­nadaily.com.cn

China is un­likely to ex­pe­ri­ence mas­sive flood­ing like that in the sum­mer of 1998, despite the in­flu­ence of the strong­est El Nino weather pat­tern ever recorded, a se­nior of­fi­cial said onWed­nes­day.

SinceMarch 21, the start of flood sea­son this year, the coun­try has seen 23 per­cent more pre­cip­i­ta­tion than the av­er­age lev­els in pre­vi­ous years, said Zheng Guoguang, chief of the China Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal Ad­min­is­tra­tion.

South­ern ar­eas of the na­tion had 20 ma­jor rain­storms, the most on record in that time frame, Zheng told a news con­fer­ence.

El Nino, a warm­ing of sea sur­face tem­per­a­tures in the Pa­cific Ocean that af­fects wind pat­terns, con­cluded­inMayafter 21 months — the long­est El Nino ever recorded.

Zheng said El Nino is largely re­spon­si­ble for the in­crease in ex­treme weather con­di­tions this year.

How­ever, he said, it is un­likely that mas­sive flood­ing will wreak havoc in the Yangtze River basin ar­eas, as it did in the sum­mer of 1998. That is be­cause at­mo­spheric con­di­tions in the mid­dle and high al­ti­tudes, which usu­ally bring cold air and rain­storms to the coun­try, are weaker than in 1998.

China ex­pe­ri­enced mas­sive flood­ing in the sum­mer of 1998 along the Yangtze, Nen­jiang and Songhua rivers af­ter a lengthy pe­riod of rain­storms in July and Au­gust. The flood­ing killed more than 3,000 peo­ple and af­fected 223 mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to Xin­hua News Agency.

“The av­er­age level of pre­cip­i­ta­tion na­tion­wide is 5 per­cent more than in 1998,” Zheng said. “But the po­si­tion of the rain belt has kept shift­ing in the south and north this year. Thus, the pe­riod of rain­storms is shorter than in 1998.”

Liu Ning, sec­re­tary-gen­eral of the State Flood Con­trol and Drought Re­lief Head­quar­ters, told the news con­fer­ence there is still a large chance of mas­sive flood­ing at Taihu Lake and along the Huaihe River this year.

“There is also a large chance for rel­a­tively big floods along the Yangtze River and Songhua River,” he said.

He said the next two months, which is the coun­try’s main flood sea­son, will be a cru­cial time for flood preven­tion.

The flood con­trol head­quar­ters is­sued flood alerts for more than 230 rivers, the largest num­ber in five years, since the start of this year’s flood sea­son. Six rivers have ex­pe­ri­enced their largest floods ever, ac­cord­ing to the author­ity.

PAN LIANGLIANG / CHINA NEWS SER­VICE

Fire­fight­ers res­cue a stranded woman on Wed­nes­day af­ter a heavy storm trig­gered flood­ing in Jin­hua, Zhe­jiang prov­ince.

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