Thursday, September 21, 2023
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China hit by rare union of record rainfall, heatwaves and tornado

CNA – A rare convergence in China of record rainfall, heatwaves and a tornado hitting the southern megacity of Guangzhou this week displaced millions of people, damaged properties and swamped farmland.

Southern China is expected to see torrential rains until Tuesday, Chinese state television reported yesterday, with no immediate reprieve to the vast and populous region inundated by downpours in the past week.

Authorities issued warnings of “extreme weather events” as early as April, ahead of the rainy season that signals seasonal transition from spring to summer in June.

China is historically prone to floods, triggering landslides and swamping many acres of farmland.

In recent times, it has grown even more vulnerable due to deforestation, the reclamation of wetlands and the storage of water for power generation and irrigation.

An aerial view of flooded residential buildings due to rising water levels of the Yangtze river in Jiujiang. PHOTO: AFP

China also blames climate change for the increase in extreme weather events.

“Weather conditions in China will tend to be unfavourable this summer,” an official at the country’s aviation regulator said at a news briefing yesterday, adding that severe convective weather can be expected.

On Thursday, a tornado ripped through parts of Guangzhou during a heavy rainstorm, local media reported, cutting off power supply to over 5,400 users in the sprawling southern city, capital of Guangdong province.

Media in Guangzhou reported dangerous water levels with high waves in the broader Pearl River Basin, prompting the central government to dispatch flood prevention workers.

Since May, precipitation in the Pearl River Basin – a vast river system encompassing Guangdong and parts of Guangxi, Jiangxi, Hunan, Guizhou and Yunnan – has risen to its highest since 1961, according to state media yesterday, citing China’s National Climate Center.

In Fujian province north of the basin, authorities warned that recent record-breaking rainfall would persist into next week, posing a high risk of natural disasters.

Meanwhile, temperatures in central and northern China are expected to hit unusual highs into next week, surpassing 40 degrees Celsius.

The abnormally warm weather has already enveloped the Henan capital of Zhengzhou, which was hit by record rainfall and paralysed by devastating floods last summer.

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