Dozens of cities across China are enduring scorching temperatures in a heat wave that is melting roofs and bulging roads, creating a stifling climate that drives people to seek the shade of underground shelters. As of 11 a.m. local time (0300 GMT) on Tuesday, 68 cities – including Shanghai and nearby Nanjing – had issued red alerts, the highest of a three-tier heat wave warning system, with temperatures forecast above 40 degrees Celsius in the next 24 hours. Shanghai, which continues to battle sporadic outbreaks of COVID-19, has warned its 25 million people to brace for heat this week. Since records began in 1873, Shanghai has only had 15 days with temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius. A photo widely circulated on social media showed a health worker in full personal protective equipment hugging a meter-high block of ice by the roadside. In a sprawling wildlife park in Shanghai, his staff had to spend eight tons of ice a day just to keep their animals cool.
“This year, the heat has come a little earlier than in previous years,” said Zhu Daren, a Shanghai resident, as her five-year-old son played in a water fountain.
“Even though it’s only July, it seems to me that (the heat) has already reached its peak. Basically, you have to turn on the air conditioning when you get home and put on sunscreen when you go out.”
China faces a summer of contrasts this year, with heat waves and heavy rain taking turns wreaking havoc across the country. Alleging climate change, the authorities have warned of possible weather catastrophes from mid-July, traditionally the hottest and rainiest time of the year. In a city in southeastern Jiangxi province, a section of road bowed by at least 15 centimeters due to the heat, state television showed. Nanjing, one of China’s three “furnaces” famous for its scorching summers, has opened its underground bomb shelters to residents since Sunday, with its war bunkers equipped with Wi-Fi, books, water dispensers and even microwave ovens. The city issued a red alert on Tuesday. In Chongqing, the second “furnace,” the roof of one of its museums literally melted, with tiles on a traditional Chinese roof bursting as heat dissolved the underlying layer of tar. The city issued a red alert on Monday. Chongqing has also deployed sanitary water spray trucks to keep its roads cool.
This week, high temperatures, humidity and ultraviolet radiation are also expected to engulf the central city of Wuhan, the country’s third-largest furnace.
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.