Heaviest rains in 60 years hit southern China as experts warn extreme weather will only get worse

Kathleen Magramo, CNN

Parts of southern China were hit by the heaviest downpours in 60 years over the weekend, amid warnings from experts that extreme weather is becoming more common.

Serious landslides have been reported in at least seven provinces and many roads are flooded, according to state media. In southwestern Guizhou province, swollen rivers spilled onto roads, washing away cars and homes, videos on social media showed.

Rainfall in Guangxi, Guangdong and Fujian reached its highest level since 1961, local meteorological bureaus said on Saturday, with those regions recording an average rainfall of 621 millimeters (24.4 inches) during the period of 46 days from May 1 to June 15, according to state news. Xinhua agency. That figure is more than 90% of the national average of 672.1 millimeters for all of 2021, based on data from the National Climate Center.

Weather experts say conditions are ripe for further torrential rains in the south of the country and heat waves in the north.

“Cold and hot air converged on southern China, and the two sides entered a stalemate and a standoff,” Wang Weiyue, an analyst at, told Reuters. from the China Meteorological Administration.

Heavy rain is expected to persist through Tuesday in the southern provinces of Guizhou, Jiangxi, Anhui, Zhejiang and Guangxi, then move north.

Severe weather warning

China’s annual flood season traditionally begins in June and is usually most severe in densely populated agricultural areas along the Yangtze River and its tributaries.

But it has become more intense and dangerous in recent years and experts have warned things could get worse.

In April, the National Climate Center warned that extreme torrential rains were expected to hit southern and southwestern regions of the country, as well as the normally dry desert terrain of southern Tibet.

China recorded an average annual rainfall of 672.1 mm last year, 6.7 percent above normal, according to a report released by the National Climate Center in May. The report concluded that China’s weather anomalies were worsening, especially in terms of the intensity of rainstorms during the summer months.

The record rainfall comes amid efforts by China to tackle climate change.

The country’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment last week announced a new national climate change strategy to build resilience against the effects of global warming by 2035. The roadmap places greater emphasis on the monitoring of climate change and its related effects as well as on the development of early warning and risk management. systems.

According to the official Xinhua news agency, at least 1.1 million people in southeastern China’s Jiangxi province were affected by floods and torrential rains between May 28 and 11. June, while 223,000 hectares of farmland in the timber and bamboo-producing province was destroyed.

In early June, torrential rains in southern China killed at least 32 people. More than 2,700 homes were badly damaged and 96,160 hectares of farmland was destroyed in the rice-growing province of Hunan.

High alert

Last summer, 398 people were killed by devastating floods that ravaged the central province of Henan. Among the dead were 12 passengers who drowned in a submerged subway line. The provincial capital of Zhengzhou recorded the most deaths in what authorities called a “once in a thousand years” downpour.

State authorities have been on high alert ever since, amid growing questions about how prepared Chinese cities are for extreme weather.

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