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China Braces for Major Floods as Interior Wilts in Record Heat

The country has been reeling from a series of extreme weather events since April with severe storms now set to sweep across some regions

A view shows a flooded area in Wuxi, Jiangsu province, China, in this still image taken from a video released on July 20, 2023, obtained by REUTERS.
A view shows a flooded area in Wuxi, Jiangsu province, China, on July 20, 2023. Photo: Reuters


China’s capital Beijing was braced for severe flooding on Friday as the country continues to be pummelled by extreme weather events.

Summer storms were rolling across many parts of China, while inland regions bake in intense heat, threatening to shrink the country’s biggest freshwater lake.

Wild weather swings have gripped China since April, causing deaths, damaging infrastructure and wilting crops as well as raising fears of its ability to cope with climate change.


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Historically, China enters its peak rainy season in late July, but extreme weather has made storms more intense and unpredictable, exposing heavily built-up megacities with poor or insufficient drainage to potentially deadly floods.

In Beijing, authorities have deployed more than 2,600 people to drain dozens of pumping stations in advance and clear thousands of water drainage outlets along roads. Several bus routes plying the suburbs and mountainous areas were halted.

Authorities in the neighbouring city of Tianjin also ramped up flood control efforts in the Hai basin, a major northern drainage system. By contrast, scant rainfall in Jiangxi province has resulted in Poyang Lake, the country’s largest body of fresh water, ebbing to its lowest level for this time of the year since records began in 1951.

Poyang Lake, known as the kidneys of China due to the role it plays in regulating the flow of the Yangtze river, normally swells in summer due to rain and retreats in winter. Last year, it also unexpectedly shrank due to drought.

The Central Meteorological Observatory on Friday issued warnings for heavy rain in eight provinces and autonomous regions until Saturday evening, according to state media.

Some areas could get short-term heavy downpours with maximum hourly rain of 30 to 60 millimetres (1.2 to 2.4 inches), and more than 70 mm (2.76 inches) in other places, CCTV reported.


Xinjiang Bakes in Record-Breaking Heat

The government is taking extra steps to address potential flooding.

At a cabinet meeting chaired by Premier Li Qiang, officials said all localities and relevant departments should put people’s lives first and pay close attention to flood prevention and drought control, state radio reported on Friday.

Meanwhile, temperatures of 35 Celsius (95 Fahrenheit) and above continued to menace other parts of China.

Northwestern Xinjiang, where temperatures hit a record high 52.2C on Sunday, remained blanketed in worse-than-usual heat while in neighbouring Gansu province some areas suffered intense heat while others warned of floods and landslides.

Officials have warned repeatedly that China is vulnerable to the impact of climate change due to its large population and unevenly distributed water supplies.

In Jiangsu province, a waterfall tumbled into a high-speed railway station in the rain-drenched city of Wuxi, according to social media clips.

As many as 150 cities get waterlogged each summer, despite efforts to improve drainage.


Heavy Rainfall to Hit Hebei, Beijing, Tianjin

In July 2021, extreme rain in the city of Zhengzhou, in Henan province, killed nearly 400 people, including 14 who drowned in a submerged subway line. More rain had fallen over three days than what the city gets in a year.

Heavy rainfall of up to 130mm (5.12in) is expected in parts of Hebei, Beijing and Tianjin until Saturday morning, the national weather bureau warned.

On Friday morning, part of an ancient city wall in Chongqing in southwestern China collapsed after hourly rainfall of up to 100.3 mm over the past day.

On Friday afternoon, the Shanghai weather bureau warned of heavy rainfall in excess of 50mm per hour in the city of 25 million people as precipitation intensified.


  • Reuters with additional editing by Sean O’Meara


Read more:

China Wilts as Heatwave Hits Record 52C, Stressing Power Grid

Floods Follow Heatwave as China Reels From Weather Onslaught

Beijing Heatwave Puts City on Red Alert Amid Food Supply Fears

Asia Rocked by More Record Heat in May as Climate Woes Rise



Sean O'Meara

Sean O'Meara is an Editor at Asia Financial. He has been a newspaper man for more than 30 years, working at local, regional and national titles in the UK as a writer, sub-editor, page designer and print editor. A football, cricket and rugby fan, he has a particular interest in sports finance.


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