BEIJING — China’s record-setting summer heat wave is continuing this week with temperatures once again pushing above 40 degrees (Celsius). The heat wave is the country’s worst in 140 years.
In late July, Shanghai set a new heat wave record when temperatures hovered above 38 degrees Celsius for a week. By Thursday it could break its record of 40.6 degrees as forecasters say temperatures should stay around 40-41 degrees Celsius for the next few days. Residents in some areas, forecasters say, could see their thermometer rise as high as 42 degrees.
Local authorities have been warning citizens in areas where the heat has been the hottest to stay inside and drink plenty of fluids. Swimming pools have been opened as well as rest centers in some areas to help people cool off and take a break.
The heat wave has left dozens dead. On Tuesday, authorities in several major cities including Shanghai and Chongqing issued a red level warning for the heat. Red level warnings are issued when temperatures break above 40 degrees Celsius during a 24-hour period.
The heat has been so searing in some places that streets have begun to crack and cars have burst into flames.
In the city of Ningbo, which lies just south of Shanghai, a 77-year old man surnamed Shen received second and third degree burns to parts of his body after collapsing in the searing heat. The man lay on the ground for more than two hours before family members discovered him.
Forecasters say the searing heat will continue in China until Thursday, affecting a wide stretch of central and southern China from Shanghai to Fuzhou and inland to areas such as Changsha, Wuhan and Hefei.
Jiang Xiaotong is a college student in central Anhui’s, provincial capital of Hefei. She said that for weeks there has been no escape from the heat.
“It’s difficult to stay outside during the day and at night the heat continues and for those living in the school’s dormitory, it’s difficult to sleep at night. Even when some of the students do sleep, they are half-awaken and woken up around four or five in the morning when the heat returns,” she stated.
Jiang hopes the heat wave will be over soon. “From early in the morning until late at night, it’s difficult to do anything without having an air conditioner on. No way to eat, sleep or even study,” said Jiang.
While parts of the country will have to deal with possibly record breaking heat in the next few days, a large swath of areas from Tibet to Inner Mongolia, Sichuan to the northeastern coastal province of Lioaning are expected to see torrential rains, strong gusts of wind and lightning storms.
On Sunday, Inner Mongolia was hit by a wave of thunderstorms, hailstones and torrential rains that ground flights and flooded the streets of the region’s capital of Hohhot.
A drought in the southern provinces of Hunan and Guizhou has left nearly six million people without water. State media say that drought in the two provinces has led to nearly two billion dollars in losses affecting more than two million hectares of crops.