Siz­zling sum­mer tops the record list

High of 44 C as heat brings deaths, drought, power and wa­ter short­ages

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - NATION - By WANG QIAN

Me­te­o­rol­o­gists have la­beled this sum­mer the hottest since na­tion­wide records be­gan in 1951, with nearly half of China’s pop­u­la­tion swel­ter­ing in a pro­longed heat wave.

A record-break­ing 44 C was reg­is­tered on Sun­day in Xin­chang, Zhe­jiang prov­ince, and the National Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal Cen­ter is­sued an or­ange alert for a record 21st straight day.

Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal au­thor­i­ties use a four-tier, color-coded weather warn­ing sys­tem, with red be­ing the most se­vere, fol­lowed by or­ange, yel­low and blue.

“On Aug 6, the heat reached a peak, af­fect­ing more than 700 mil­lion peo­ple in 19 prov­inces and re­gions,” said Wang Youmin, a re­searcher with the China Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal Ad­min­is­tra­tion’s National Cli­mate Cen­ter.

As of Wed­nes­day, eight of the worst-af­fected prov­inces, in­clud­ing Zhe­jiang, Jiangsu and Jiangxi, had recorded an aver­age max­i­mum tem­per­a­ture of 35.6 C since July, with tem­per­a­tures at 477 weather sites set­ting a record, the National Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal Cen­ter said.

Cli­ma­tol­o­gist Li Wei­jing said, “With a back­ground trend of global warm­ing, ex­treme events like ab­nor­mally hot sum­mers and cold win­ters will be­come fre­quent.”

The high tem­per­a­tures have prompted sev­eral au­thor­i­ties to is­sue pub­lic warn­ings, with the heat caus­ing dozens of deaths, se­vere drought and chal­leng­ing wa­ter and power sup­plies.

In Shang­hai and Zhe­jiang, at least 30 peo­ple have died be­cause of the heat since July, while hun­dreds have been hos­pi­tal­ized.

As of Mon­day, more than 60 mil­lion hectares of farm­land had been af­fected by se­vere drought, and nearly 8 mil­lion peo­ple were fac­ing drink­ing wa­ter short­ages.

Zhang Fanghua, chief weather fore­caster at the National Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal Cen­ter, said that af­ter Thurs­day, tem­per­a­tures will fall grad­u­ally in south­ern China and rain­fall will in­crease in Guizhou and Hu­nan prov­inces, where se­vere drought is ex­pected to ease.

She said the cen­ter will down­grade the heat alert from or­ange to yel­low on Thurs­day.

How­ever, north­east­ern China has been bat­tered by thun­der­storms, with dam­ag­ing wind gusts and hail.

The State Flood Con­trol and Drought Re­lief Head­quar­ters said se­vere flood­ing, not seen since 1987, hit Hei­longjiang prov­ince in the past week, pos­ing a great threat to pub­lic safety.

The head­quar­ters asked the au­thor­i­ties to stay alert and watch wa­ter lev­els on the Songhua and Nen­jiang rivers.

On Tues­day, two teams of ex­perts were sent to the In­ner Mon­go­lia au­ton­o­mous re­gion and Jilin prov­ince to help pre­pare for po­ten­tial rain­storms.

The National Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal Cen­ter has fore­cast heavy rain­fall for In­ner Mon­go­lia, Jilin and Hei­longjiang be­fore Fri­day.

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