China Hit by Rare Convergence of Rainfall, Heatwaves, and a Tornado

Reuters
By Reuters
June 17Chinashare
China Hit by Rare Convergence of Rainfall, Heatwaves, and a Tornado
Flooded fields and buildings following heavy rains in Rongan in China's southern Guangxi region on June 13, 2022. (STR/AFP via Getty Images)

BEIJING—China was hit this week by a rare convergence of record rainfall, heatwaves, and a tornado in the southern city 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.

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 unfavorable 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.

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 paralyzed by devastating floods last summer.

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