Floods caused by torrential rain forced 177,600 people to relocate, destroyed 1,729 homes, damaged 27.13 hectares of crops and caused more than $250 million in losses, the Guangdong Emergency Management said Tuesday.
State media reported that Guangdong is one of at least seven provinces where record rains have caused severe landslides and road flooding. And videos on social media showed in the southwestern province of Guizhou, collapsing rivers that spilled over roads, swept away cars and homes.
The torrential rains come amid warnings from experts that severe weather is becoming more frequent.
Precipitation in Guangxi, Guangdong and Fujian reached the highest levels since 1961, with those regions recording an average rainfall of 621 mm (24.4 inches) in the 46-day period from May 1 and June 15, according to state news . Xinhua Agency. That number equals more than 90% of the country’s average of 672.1 mm for the whole of 2021, based on data from the National Climate Center.
Weather experts say conditions are ripe for more torrential rainstorms in the south of the country and heat waves in the north.
“Cold and warm air converged over southern China, and the two sides got into an impasse and tug of war,” Wang Weiwei, an analyst with weather.com.cn, the arm of the China Meteorological Administration, told Reuters.
Heavy rains are expected to continue into Tuesday in the southern provinces of Guizhou, Jiangxi, Anhui, Zhejiang and Guangxi and then move north.
Severe weather warning
The annual flood season in China traditionally begins in June and is usually most severe in the densely populated agricultural areas along the Yangtze River and its tributaries.
But it has become more severe and dangerous in recent years and experts have warned that things could get worse.
In April, the National Climate Center warned that heavy rains are expected over the southern and southwestern parts of the country, as well as the typically dry desert terrain of southern Tibet.
China recorded an average annual rainfall of 672.1 mm last year, 6.7% more than normal, according to a report from the National Climate Center in May. The report concluded that China’s weather variability is getting worse, especially in terms of the intensity of rainstorms during the summer months.
The record rainfall comes amid efforts by China to tackle climate change.
At least 1.1 million residents of southeast China’s Jiangxi Province were affected by floods and torrential rains between May 28 and June 11, according to the official Xinhua news agency, while 223,000 hectares of farmland were destroyed in the timber and bamboo-producing province.
State authorities have been on high alert ever since, amid growing questions about the preparedness of Chinese cities for severe weather.