South­ern China wilts as heat wave con­tin­ues

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - NATION - By WANG QIAN in Bei­jing YAN YIQI in Hangzhou

An ex­tended and deadly heat wave is cook­ing the south­ern parts of China, with tem­per­a­tures hit­ting record highs in seven prov­inces and re­gions on Tues­day.

Since early July, dozens of peo­ple na­tion­wide have died from heat-re­lated health prob­lems. With tem­per­a­tures in most ar­eas of the south fore­cast to pass 35 C and pos­si­bly 40 C, the China Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal Ad­min­is­tra­tion is­sued the sec­ond-high­est national heat alert on Tues­day.

The high­est alert has never been is­sued.

“About 19 prov­inces and re­gions are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing scorch­ing heat, cov­er­ing more than 3 mil­lion square kilo­me­ters, al­most a third of the coun­try,” said He Lifu, chief weather fore­caster at the National Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal Cen­ter.

How hot has it been? As many mi­cro blog posts and TV re­ports have shown, it has lit­er­ally been hot enough to fry an egg on the street. On Wed­nes­day, sev­eral peo­ple suc­cess­fully cooked eggs, fish and ba­con on street pave­ments and other sur­faces.

In Xiaoshan, Zhe­jiang prov­ince, the mer­cury hit 42.2 C on Tues­day, a his­toric high.

“The hot days are mainly caused by a strong Pa­cific sub­trop­i­cal high, an im­por­tant at­mo­spheric cir­cu­la­tion sys­tem in­flu­enc­ing the sum­mer cli­mate in China,” said Sun Leng, se­nior en­gi­neer for the China Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal Ad­min­is­tra­tion’s Cli­mate Data Cen­ter.

But don’t ex­pect a cooldown. Satel­lite im­ages on Wed­nes­day from the Cli­mate Data Cen­ter in­di­cate that the hot weather will con­tinue un­til at least mid-Au­gust.

For Guo Ren­ping, July was a night­mare. The 55-year-old worker in Chongqing worked eight-hour shifts for 20 of the 31 days this past month that ex­pe­ri­enced tem­per­a­tures higher than 35 C.

Ev­ery day, Guo, sorted and trans­ferred garbage at a waste land­fill. Ev­ery day about 2,000 met­ric tons of waste is de­liv­ered to the land­fill. Ground tem­per­a­tures in that area of the city reached 50 C in July.

“I can­not bear to work in such hot weather for eight hours ev­ery day,” said Guo, who added that he was paid a heat-re­lated sub­sidy by the garbage com­pany.

Some work­ers in Hangzhou, cap­i­tal of Zhe­jiang, have been luck­ier than Guo. Sev­eral com­pa­nies chose to give their work­ers days off.

Zhang Ping, a worker at Hangzhou Xihu Elec­tronic Group, told Xin­hua News Agency that most of his co­work­ers were given a 10-day leave from July 26 to Aug 4 be­cause of the hot weather.

In Wuhan, cap­i­tal of Hubei prov­ince, 1,460 air- con­di­tioned shel­ters, or cool­ing cen­ters, have been open since late June. Some stores see as many as 50,000 peo­ple pass through their doors on a daily ba­sis.

But while peo­ple are tak­ing their own mea­sures to cool down, me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal au­thor­i­ties are mak­ing ef­forts to in­duce rain­fall and a lit­tle re­prieve from the heat.

On Tues­day, seven cities and coun­ties in Zhe­jiang seeded clouds and in­duced pre­cip­i­ta­tion to com­bat a drought. Mil­lions of hectares of farm­land have wilted un­der a drought in Zhe­jiang, Hubei, Hu­nan, Guizhou and Jiangxi prov­inces.

In Hangzhou’s Yuhang dis­trict, seven cloud-seed­ing rock­ets were launched on Tues­day af­ter­noon to in­duce rain, re­sult­ing in an aver­age of 5.4 mil­lime­ters of pre­cip­i­ta­tion and a 10 C drop in tem­per­a­tures be­tween 3: 30 pm and 5 pm, said Shi Feng at the Yuhang Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal Bureau.

Ac­cord­ing to the Zhe­jiang Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal Bureau, the prov­ince has been ex­pe­ri­enc­ing its hottest July in 62 years. From July 1 to 29, the aver­age tem­per­a­ture was 30.3 C, while the aver­age pre­cip­i­ta­tion was only 38 mm.

The bureau also said in a state­ment that 12 cities and coun­ties are pre­par­ing to seed clouds and cre­ate pre­cip­i­ta­tion. Au­thor­i­ties said once they see clouds and ideal wind di­rec­tions, cloud- seed­ing op­er­a­tions will be con­ducted as soon as pos­si­ble. Con­tact the writ­ers at wangqian@chi­nadaily.com.cn and yany­iqi@chi­nadaily.com.cn Luo Wangshu in Chongqing con­trib­uted to this story.

PEI XIN / XIN­HUA

Raw ba­con is 80 per­cent cooked in about 80 min­utes on a road in Shang­hai on Tues­day. The ther­mome­ter shows the tem­per­a­ture was more than 60 C.

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