Huge swaths of China are broiling under an unprecedented heatwave, coinciding with severe drought, forcing electricity rationing and threatening agricultural outputs. Officials issued a “red alert” for heat for the 11th day in a row and an “orange alert” for drought on Monday (the highest and second-highest threat level, respectively). The country’s heat and drought have received far less English-language press attention [including in Hot News – Ed.] than similar phenomena in Europe.
More than 260 weather stations broke high temperature records last week and over the weekend, including in Mianyang where the Sunday daytime high of 105.8°F smashed the previous record by 4°F. In Chongqing (with a metro-area population just shy of 17 million) Saturday’s overnight “low” was 94.8°F — hotter than its average August daytime high. Drought has shrunk the mighty Yangtze River, imperiling both agriculture and hydroelectric dams. Curtailed hydropower output across the country has led officials to shut down factories in order to route more electricity to residential areas.
The drought has also forced drastic measures to save summer crops, including potentially using cloud seeding measures to kickstart rainfall. The heatwave and drought, both the worst in the country’s 61 years of recordkeeping, come in the runup to a key Communist Party meeting this fall. (Reuters, NPR, OilPrice, Climate Home, Bloomberg $; Records last week: Axios; Weekend records: Axios; Farmers: AP, Reuters, AP; Cloud seeding: AP; Party meeting: AP; Climate Signals background: Extreme heat and heatwaves, Drought)