China has issued its first national drought warning of the year as authorities fight wildfires and mobilize specialized teams to protect crops from scorching temperatures in the Yangtze River basin.
The national ‘yellow warning’, issued late Thursday, comes after regions from Sichuan in the southwest to Shanghai in the Yangtze Delta experienced weeks of extreme heat, with government officials repeatedly citing global climate change as the cause. The warning is two steps away from the most serious warning on the Beijing scale.
In one of the major floodplains of the Yangtze in central China’s Jiangxi province, Lake Poyang has now shrunk to a quarter of its normal size for this time of year, state news agency Xinhua said Thursday.
As many as 66 rivers in 34 provinces in Chongqing’s southwestern region have dried up, state broadcaster CCTV said Friday.
Rainfall in Chongqing has fallen by 60 percent this year compared to the seasonal norm, and soils in several districts are severely deficient in moisture, CCTV said, citing local government data.
Temperatures reached 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit) on Thursday in the Beibei district, north of the urban center of Chongqing, according to China’s weather bureau.
Chongqing accounted for six of the 10 hottest locations in the country on Friday morning, with temperatures in Bishan district already approaching 39 degrees Celsius. Shanghai was already at 37 degrees.
The infrastructure and emergency services of the Chongqing region are under increasing pressure, with firefighters on high alert as mountain and forest fires broke out in the region. State media also reported an increase in heatstroke cases.
The Fuling district gas company also told customers on Friday that they would suspend deliveries until further notice as they face “serious security risks”.
Chongqing Agriculture Bureau has also set up expert teams to protect vulnerable crops and expand plantings to compensate for losses before the fall harvest.
The Department of Water Resources has instructed drought-stricken agricultural regions to set up rosters that control who can access supplies at what time, to ensure they don’t run out.
According to data from China’s Ministry of Emergency Relief on Thursday, high temperatures caused direct economic losses of 2.73 billion yuan ($400 million) in July alone, affecting 5.5 million people.
Meanwhile, China’s National Meteorological Center (NMC) renewed its red high temperature warning on Friday, the 30th consecutive day it has issued warnings, it said on its Weibo channel. State forecasters also predicted that the current heat wave would not subside until August 26.
The weather agency said in its daily bulletin that 4.5 million square kilometers of the national territory had experienced temperatures of 35 degrees Celsius or more in the past month — nearly half of the country’s total area — with more than 200 weather stations recording record highs. .
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by DailyExpertNews staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.)