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Extreme weather lashes country
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08:26, June 02, 2009

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Residents should prepare for an increase in lightning, strong rain, wind and hail as the country enters the official summer flooding season.

The China Meteorological Administration yesterday said the country endured extreme weather in May, with storms in the south and record temperatures in the north.

Zhang Zuqiang, deputy director of CMA's department of emergency and disaster reduction and public service, said severe weather would continue as the official flooding season begins.

He said the coastal provinces were likely to experience the first typhoon this month.

Meanwhile, rainfall during the next 10 days would concentrate in the mid and lower Yangtze River, south China, eastern Sichuan, western and southern Yunnan, southeastern Tibet and southern Shaanxi.

Rain in these regions is expected to increase by between 20-40 percent compared to the same period in earlier years, he said at the administration's monthly press conference yesterday.

But he said there was little rain predicted for the drought-stricken northeastern provinces and in the west.

The drought in Heilongjiang province in northeast China was now the most severe in its history, he said.

Drought-affected areas reached 92.54 million mu (6 million ha), or 53 percent of the province's arable land, on May 27.

Areas classified as severely affected by drought reached 37.4 million mu. There was a shortage of water in paddy fields covering about 6.06 million mu, he added.

Meanwhile, temperature in many parts of Heilongjiang, Yunnan, Sichuan, Zhejiang and Fujian reached new records in May.

CMA spokesperson Yu Xinwen said there had recently been numerous lightning strikes in many parts of the country, particularly the south.

Since February, there had been 670,000 lightning strikes, which was 80,000 more than the corresponding period in 2008.

There were 974 thunderstorms between January and May, which injured 23 people and caused 9 deaths.

Yu urged local meteorological departments to ensure they were prepared for the peak thunderstorm season between June and October.

Meanwhile, Zhang said there were fewer sandstorms in the northern part of the country in May, with just 22 per cent of the usual number in previous years.

In southern Xinjiang and the middle of Inner Mongolia, the sandstorms were the lightest since 2003.

Source: China Daily

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