Rescuers transfer flood-trapped residents in Wanzhou district, Southwest China's Chongqing municipality, July 4, 2023. (Photo by Ran Mengjun/For chinadaily.com.cn)
China has experienced significantly less damage from flood and droughts this year, but flood and drought control remains grim due to the high frequency of extreme weather events during what is the country's rainiest time of year, officials said.
The situation so far this year is not as grave as in normal years, Wang Daoxi, vice-minister of emergency management and water resources, said at a news conference organized by the State Council Information Office on Tuesday.
Compared with the same period over the past five years, China has on average experienced great decreases in casualties and direct economic losses from floods this year, and far fewer people have faced urgent evacuations, he said.
The number of people left dead or missing has declined 85.1 percent, the vice-minister said.
The country has also registered decreases of 50.2 and 44.4 percent in the number of people and the amount of cropland affected by droughts, respectively, he continued.
Wang, however, stressed a complicated, grim situation for flood and drought control as the annual period with the most intense rainfall — from mid-July to mid-August — continues.
"The country is forecast to experience comparatively more extreme weather events," he said, adding that more periodically heavy rainfall, floods and scorching heat waves are expected to occur.
He said forecasts show that the country will have to simultaneously cope with flood and drought events in the remaining days of this year's rainiest period.
While major floods may hit the Songhua River, the middle reaches of the Heilong River, Taihu Lake and some tributaries of the Huaihe and Yangtze rivers, the Inner Mongolia autonomous region and Gansu province will experience periodic drought, he said.
He stressed the importance of public vigilance over the next two weeks, as many weak links remain in the country's flood control system.
Precautionary measures for mountain torrents, geological disasters and deluges in medium-sized and small rivers and reservoirs still need to be beefed up, he said.
Wang Yawei, an official at the China Meteorological Administration, warned that the country is expected to experience more extreme weather this month and in August.
During this rainy season, China on average has received 288 millimeters of precipitation, down 10.6 percent from the average amount of rainfall in normal years, he said.
In Chinese meteorological statistics, the bench mark "normal years" generally refers to the period from 1981 to 2010.
But the nation has been lashed by 10 strong rainfall incidents this year, causing 16 national meteorological stations to report record amounts of precipitation.
Furthermore, Wang said 26 national meteorological stations registered record high temperatures in six rounds of extreme heat waves.
He said blistering temperatures in some parts of the country are expected to continue this month, including some areas in the Xinjiang Uygur and Inner Mongolia autonomous regions and Gansu province.
The highest temperatures are expected to reach 38 C in these regions. Some places may even see temperatures exceed 40 C, he noted.
Northern parts of North China, most areas in Northeast China, parts of the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region and the provinces of Sichuan, Hainan and Yunnan will receive 20 to 50 percent more precipitation than average, he said.
Some areas in Xinjiang and the provinces of Zhejiang, Fujian and Jiangxi, however, will see precipitation next month drop by 20 to 50 percent from normal years, he added.