BEIJING: China was hit this week by a rare convergence of record rainfall, heatwaves, and a tornado in the southern megacity of Guangzhou, displacing millions of people, damaging properties and swamping farmland, with more storms and floods on the way.
Southern China is expected to see torrential rain until Tuesday, state media reported on Friday, with no immediate reprieve to the region inundated by downpours in the past week.
At least seven provinces and regions in the south issued alerts for severe storms and floods for the next 24 hours.
Authorities had issued warnings of “extreme weather events” as early as April, ahead of the rainy season that signals the 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, the country has grown even more vulnerable, owing to deforestation, the reclamation of wetlands and the storage of water for power generation and irrigation.
China also blames climate change for the increase in extreme weather events.
The aviation regulator on Friday cautioned airlines against flying through extreme weather, with severe convection storms to be expected over the summer.
“Weather conditions in China will tend to be unfavourable this summer,“ an official at the regulator said at a news briefing on Friday.
Late 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 on Friday, 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 (104 degrees Fahrenheit).
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. — Reuters