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Southern China hit by heaviest rains since 1961, forcing hundreds of thousands to evacuate

flood china june 2022

Hundreds of thousands of people were affected and more than 200 000 forced to evacuate their homes after the heaviest rains since 1961 hit parts of southern China.

According to China’s National Meteorological Center, the average rainfall in Guangdong, Fujian and Guangxi provinces between early May and the middle of June reached 621 mm (24 inches) which is the highest since 1961.1

The rains caused major floods in the low-lying Pearl River basin, forcing hundreds of thousands of people to evacuate and threatening manufacturing, shipping and logistics operations.

In Guangdong, more than 200 000 people have been evacuated and the current damage is estimated at $254 million USD.

The city of Shaoguan, Guangdong issued a Red Flood alert on the morning of June 21, after multiple rural counties and the major city of Foshan upgraded their flood warnings in recent days. The city of Foshan was hit by a destructive tornado on June 19, the second damaging tornado to hit the province within just 3 days.2

Authorities in Shaoguan asked residents of communities along river banks and in low-lying neighborhoods to move to higher ground, after floodwaters hit a 50-year high, state television reported.3

From May 21 to June 17, the cumulative average rainfall in the city reached 522.9 mm (20.6 inches), a new record.

At noon (LT) on June 21, the city of Qingquan, near Shaoguan, also raised its flood alert to the highest level as the waters rose.

The peak discharge of the swollen Beijiang River near Guangdong’s capital Guangzhou is expected to reach 20 000 m3 per second, a flow of a size that probably occurs “once every 100 years,” the local water conservancy bureau told Chinese media.

According to local media, the floods in neighboring Guangxi are the heaviest since 2005.

Jiangxi Province raised the alert level to Red on June 20 after local hydrological stations registered water in local rivers at warning levels.4

The heavy rain that lashed the province has brought the first floods this year in the Changjiang River and Xiuhe River, according to the provincial hydrological monitoring center. The center estimated that the water level would continue to rise in the coming four days in Poyang Lake, China’s largest freshwater lake, due to the heavy rain and that a flood may form as the water may rise around 0.4 m (1.3 feet) above the warning level.

485 000 people in Jiangxi’s 9 districts were affected.

In contrast to the south, China’s northern regions are experiencing temperatures above 40 °C (104 °F) and drought.

References:

1 Hundreds of thousands evacuated in China after heaviest rains in decades – AFP – June 21, 2022

2 Extremely close-range footage of the Foshan tornado, China – The Watchers – June 19, 2022

3 South China provinces raise alerts over historic flooding – Reuters – June 21, 2022

4 China’s Jiangxi issues highest alert for floods – Xinhua – June 20, 2022

Featured image credit: Spotlight on China (stillshot)

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