Floods unlikely to reach scale of 1998
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.
Firefighters rescue a stranded woman on Wednesday after a heavy storm triggered flooding in Jinhua, Zhejiang province.