China Issues First National Drought Alert of the Year

Reuters
By Reuters
August 19, 2022China News
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China Issues First National Drought Alert of the Year
Ships sail on the Yangtze River near Badong, 100km (62 miles) from the Three Gorges dam in Hubei Province, China, on Aug. 7, 2012. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

SHANGHAI—The Chinese regime has issued its first national drought alert of the year.

The national “yellow alert,” issued late on Thursday, comes after regions from Sichuan in the southwest to Shanghai in the Yangtze delta have experienced weeks of intense heat. The alert is two notches short of the most serious warning on Beijing’s scale.

In one of the Yangtze’s important flood basins in central China’s Jiangxi province, the Poyang Lake has now shrunk to a quarter of its normal size for this time of year, state news agency Xinhua said on Thursday.

As many as 66 rivers across 34 counties in the southwestern region of Chongqing have dried up, state broadcaster CCTV said on Friday.

Rainfall in Chongqing this year is down 60 percent compared to the seasonal norm, and the soil in several districts is severely short of moisture, CCTV said, citing data from local authorities.

The district of Beibei, north of Chongqing’s urban centre, saw temperatures hit 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit) on Thursday, according to China’s weather bureau.

Chongqing accounted for six of the 10 hottest locations in the country on Friday morning, with temperatures in the district of Bishan already approaching 39 degrees Celsius (102 degrees Fahrenheit). Shanghai was already at 37 degrees (99 degrees Fahrenheit).

The Chongqing region’s infrastructure and emergency services have come under increasing strain, with firefighters on high alert as mountain and forest blazes erupted across the region. State media also reported an increase in cases of heatstroke.

The gas utility in the district of Fuling also told customers on Friday that they would cut off supplies until further notice as they deal with “serious safety hazards.”

According to data from China’s emergency ministry late on Thursday, high temperatures in July alone caused direct economic losses of 2.73 billion yuan ($400 million), affecting 5.5 million people.

Meanwhile China’s National Meteorological Center (NMC) renewed its high-temperature red alert on Friday, the 30th consecutive day it has issued alerts, it said on its Weibo channel. State forecasters also predicted that the current heat wave would only start to abate on Aug. 26.

The weather agency said in its daily bulletin that 4.5 million square kilometers (1.7 million square miles) of national territory had now experienced temperatures of 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) or more over the past month—nearly half the country’s total area—with more than 200 weather stations recording record highs.

($1 = 6.8103 yuan)

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