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Storms moving north; heat coming next week

Updated: 2016-06-17 08:16
By Zheng Jinran (China Daily)

Flooding risk to rise in Xinjiang as heavy rain combines with snowmelt

Heavy rainfall, which has swept China's vast southern regions since Wednesday, will be replaced by high temperatures next week, the national meteorological authority said on Thursday.

But Mother Nature isn't quite finished. Storms will move northward to the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, where flood risks will rise as heavy precipitation combines with snowmelt.

More than 2.4 million people have been affected by recent storms. Thirteen storm-related deaths were recorded in Hunan and Guizhou provinces. Fifteen people were missing, and more than 83,000 houses were damaged as of 8 am Thursday, according to a statement from the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

A report from the ministry said direct economic losses reached 2.14 billion yuan ($325 million) as of Thursday.

The southern provinces saw their heaviest rain of the year on Wednesday. In parts of Hunan, Guizhou and Fujian provinces, precipitation exceeded 200 millimeters, triggering floods and secondary disasters such as landslides.

The recent spell of weather, regarded as the strongest and most widespread of the year so far, has weakened and will move north on Saturday. High temperatures are expected next week, the Central Meteorological Observatory said on Thursday.

While the recent storms have been confined mostly to the south, heavy rains are forecast for northern regions and the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region in the northwest for the next 10 days - 30 to 70 percent above average, meteorologists said.

Heavy rain is expected in Xinjiang on Friday and Saturday. That, combined with snowmelt from the mountains, will create a high risk of flooding, the center said.

In other northern provinces, strong convective weather, characterized by thunderstorms, hail and high wind, has been seen several times since the beginning of June and will continue, Zhang Tao, chief forecaster at the National Meteorological Center, said on Thursday.

On Sunday, heavy rain and hail blasted Harbin in Northeast China's Heilongjiang province, soaking the city and snarling traffic. Heavy hail has also been recorded in Beijing and other cities in northern regions.

The ministry said that as of Thursday morning, wind and hail had caused one death and left one person missing in the north. Overall, 1.67 million people have been affected.

"It's not rare to see strong convective weather in northern and northeastern regions," Zhang said. But he added that such weather has hit these regions more frequently than average this year.

Ma Xuekuan, another forecaster at the center, said the downpours and frequent thunderstorms and hail were both related to the collision of cold weather patterns in the north and warm summer monsoons in the south.

In addition, the lasting influence of El Nino's abnormal ocean temperatures in the central and eastern Pacific, also contributed to heavier rainfall in China, Ma said.


 Storms moving north; heat coming next week

Rescuers evacuate people stranded in floods in Hengshan county, Hunan province, on Wednesday. More than 80,000 residents were affected, including 1,700 who were evacuated. Peng Bin / For China Daily

Storms moving north; heat coming next week

(China Daily 06/17/2016 page4)

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