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Yunnan, Jilin provinces hit by worst of drought

By CHENG SI/LI YINGQING | China Daily | Updated: 2019-05-22 09:16

Photo taken on May 17, 2019, shows a small reservoir in Yunnan province. [Photo/Xinhua]

A severe drought is baking parts of China, with southwestern Yunnan province and northeastern Jilin province getting the worst of it, according to the Beijing-based National Climate Center.

Crops have been damaged by the drought, including rice and wheat in southern areas and corn in the northeast.

According to the Yunnan government, the drought has made it difficult for about 309,000 people to get drinking water. About 141,000 hectares of crops have been affected, with more than 29,000 hectares experiencing serious damage.

"The corn kernels burst out even in the cornstalk, just like popcorn," said Liu Yueming, a technician in the promotion of scientific cultivation in the province. "It felt like the surface temperature was as high as 60 C. It's a catastrophe."

He said that some springs in a village called Haikou had dried up and the villagers didn't have enough drinking water. "The village has 29 small water reservoirs, however, 14 of them have been used up so far. The drought is beyond imagination."

"The villagers are doing everything they can to have enough drinking water and then to also save as much as possible for their crops," he added.

The region is also at greater risk of forest fires because of the high temperatures and low humidity.

The Yunnan Meteorological Bureau warned the public on May 13 about more dry weather, and the provincial government recently announced that when conditions are right, artificial means will be used to make rain.

Chen Lijuan, the chief weather forecaster of the National Climate Center, said rain is on the way to the northeast and will arrive next week. That should alleviate the drought, but dry conditions will continue to make things worse in Yunnan, she said.

Zhou Wenyi, a 26-year-old from Kunming, Yunnan province, said that the weather is very strange this year.

"The climate of Yunnan is kind of like the southeastern Asian countries, where April and May are the two hottest periods before the rainy season arrives. The highest temperature in Yunnan's summer period usually is around 21 to 22 C," she said.

"However, the temperature now is about 30 C, much higher than in previous years," she said. "Also, the rainy season is supposed to begin after the May Day holiday, but I haven't seen a drop of rain so far."

Data from the National Climate Center shows that the average rainfall from April 1 to May 17 is 35.3 millimeters, down almost two-thirds from the same period last year, the least recorded rainfall over that period since 1961.

In addition to the drought, the average temperature is 1.9 C higher than average for the period, the highest since 1961.

Chen, the chief forecaster, said that according to the mid- to long-term forecast rainfall will relieve drought in the eastern part of Yunnan province, though its western part will still be plagued by the drought.

Surveillance from the National Climate Center shows that drought is also occurring in the Inner Mongolia and Guangxi Zhuang autonomous regions, as well as Shanxi, Shaanxi and Hubei provinces.

High temperatures are also hitting Beijing, the Beijing Meteorological Bureau said on Tuesday.

According to the bureau, the capital will experience temperatures above 34 C in the next three to four days, and the bureau issued a yellow alert for heat on Tuesday.

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