China faces extreme weather as temperatures rise, more rain falls

Elderly people use fans to cool themselves off, in Beijing on June 26, 2019.
Elderly people use fans to cool themselves off, in Beijing on June 26, 2019.PHOTO: AFP

SHANGHAI (REUTERS) - Extreme weather in China is becoming increasingly frequent, with temperatures in some regions hitting record highs this year and with rainfall set to exceed average levels by 70 per cent in the next 10 days, officials at the nation's weather bureau warned.

Speaking at a briefing on Tuesday (July 2), Mr Liao Jun of the disaster relief department of the China Meteorological Administration said that average temperatures this year in China have been 0.9 deg C higher than the average since 1961.

Temperatures in most parts of China will rise further in July, and some areas will experience "sauna days" with high temperatures and humidity, which will affect people's daily activities, health as well as water and electricity supply, said the China Meteorological Administration.

Average temperatures in the south-west province of Yunnan and the island province of Hainan have been the highest since 1961, said Mr Liao, adding that as many as 40 weather stations across the country have recorded their highest temperatures ever.

While average rainfall in Yunnan and Tibet has been the lowest since 1961, other regions have been facing "extreme precipitation events", with rain in parts of Jiangxi, Hunan and Guizhou "breaching historical extremes", he told reporters.

Large parts of southern China's planting regions have been waterlogged, affecting rice, tobacco and fruit production, he said, adding that rainfall in the south over the next 10 days is expected to exceed average levels by between 30 per cent to 70 per cent.

"From a wider perspective, along with global warming, the likelihood of extreme weather events is increasing," said an official with China's National Climate Centre, at the same Tuesday briefing.

China's Ministry of Emergency Management said on Tuesday that it had already disbursed 1.32 billion yuan (S$260 million) in emergency funds to help disaster relief, with a large proportion of the money going to flood-hit central and southern regions.