Suspend schools and public transport… Guangdong in full swing for “strongest” rainstorm this year

A girl walks on a street in Guangzhou, southern China, May 11, 2022. Rainfall gradually increased in the evening. Photo: CGV

Major cities in southern China’s Guangdong province, including Guangzhou and Zhuhai, have announced plans to suspend primary and secondary schools, as well as public transport, ahead of the “heaviest rainstorms” of 2022, which will bring risks of flash floods and geological disasters, as well as a painful memory of the record downpour in Zhengzhou last year.

Experts said they believe that with a more mature emergency response mechanism and early preparations, Guangdong is unlikely to repeat the tragedy.

Guangdong meteorologists said the province is expected to experience persistent heavy rain from Tuesday to Friday. The rain could be the heaviest, most widespread and longest this year, and could even break daily records in parts of the region, authorities said.

More than 50 rainstorm warnings had been issued in Guangdong as of press time, including 11 red alerts. Nearly half of the province’s cities and counties are enveloped in “heaviest downpours,” which show no signs of abating.

Heavy rainfall in Guangdong has had a patchy distribution and some places are experiencing extreme downpours, with Zhuhai, Zhongshan and three other cities recording torrential rains, the Guangdong Provincial Meteorological Bureau said Wednesday.

On Wednesday, the state flood control department raised alert levels from IV to III in Guangdong as well as neighboring Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, while dispatching expert teams to help residents respond to potential flooding.

To minimize the impact on people’s lives, Guangzhou and Zhuhai, two major cities in Guangdong, ordered all primary and secondary schools to suspend classes and advised residents to work from home and refrain from going out. unless necessary. Public bus and metro lines affected by the floods have been suspended.

Guangzhou also advised residents to buy enough food and daily necessities for two days of preparation.

Fully briefed and prepared, many Guangzhou residents joked that they had made such thorough preparations that they were more excited about the rain than scared, expressing confidence in the government’s quick response to potential risks.

As to why Guangzhou’s rainfall was “delayed”, authorities said it could be attributed to challenges in rainfall distribution forecasts, which are based on an outbreak of monsoon. But they noted that current weather conditions are still “very conducive” for heavy rain.

“China’s monsoons normally originate from the Pacific Ocean, bringing a large amount of water vapor. When warm, humid air meets cold air from the north of the country, heavy rain is formed. The Guangdong and Guangxi in southern China are the entrances to such monsoons, so rainfall will be relatively large in scale and amount,” said Wang Gengchen, a researcher at the Institute of Atmospheric Physics of China. the Chinese Academy of Sciences, to the Global Times on Wednesday.

Wang noted that normally China encounters such extreme weather in June and July, but this year it is May. The reason is that the cold front in the north of the country remained longer and stronger than in previous years, moving towards southern China where it met the monsoon.

Other provincial-level regions in southern or southwest China such as Guangxi, Yunnan and Guizhou were swept away by downpours. According to data released by the city of Guilin in Guangxi, a famous tourist city known for its breathtaking scenery, the floods have so far affected some 6,418 people.

However, Wang said that since the south has accumulated rich experience in dealing with such extreme weather conditions and the emergency response mechanisms there are relatively mature, it is unlikely that the rain will come. cause great damage like what Zhengzhou, in the province of Henan (central China), experienced last July.

Unprecedented rains hit Zhengzhou, causing record flooding that caused severe damage to people’s lives and property. Nearly 15 million people were affected and 398 disappeared or died in Henan, causing direct economic losses of 120 billion yuan ($17.8 billion).

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