Beijing's winter drought likely to be longest in 60 years

16:06, February 01, 2011      

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An analyst studies a meteorological map in Beijing Meteorological Bureau in Beijing, capital of China, Jan. 29, 2011. Beijing broke a 60-year record for the latest date for its first snowfall of the season on Saturday. Since 1951, the latest record of the first snowfall in Beijing was in 1984, when it arrived on Jan. 29. (Xinhua/Zhang Yu)
Beijing is likely to suffer its longest winter drought in 60 years, with no snow or rain likely to fall in the city within the next 10 days, the municipal meteorological bureau's chief weatherman said Tuesday.

Sun Jisong said if the drought lasts another 14 days, it will be the capital city's longest since the bureau started keeping records in 1951.

The city's current record-long winter drought occurred in the winter of 1970/71, when no precipitation fell for 114 days.

Sun said the lingering drought increases the risk of fire and disease in the city.

But, with tap water supplies uninterrupted, the city's urbanites hardly even notice the crisis.

Zhang Tiecheng, the deputy head of Nanjiao Village in the city's southwestern suburban district of Fangshan, said elderly people have never experienced such a water crisis.

"A household water quota system was introduced in November because the water from three newly-drilled wells is for drinking only," he said.

He said in the past, villagers got their water from wells drilled as deep as 200 meters - now they are 300 to 800 meters deep.

Winter precipitation, though accounting for only 2 percent of the city's yearly total, is important for replenishing the underground aquifer.

Hu Bo, a Beijing Water Affairs Bureau official, said Beijing has been taking water from neighboring Hebei Province since October and will do so until March.

"I dare not think how severe the city's water crisis will be once the water diversion from Hebei ends," he said.

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