The official Xinhua news agency reported on Tuesday that China is bracing for summer floods with 71 rivers already exceeding warning levels, while meteorological authorities cautioned that global warming is fueling more extreme weather.
According to the Ministry of Water Resources, rainfall in some parts of central and southern China has hit record highs in recent weeks even though overall precipitation is about 10% lower this year compared with last year,
The ministry added that water levels on the Yangtze and its tributaries were expected to rise more over the next week, and it warned of major floods throughout the country from June to August.
Last summer, rainfall hit its second highest level since 1961, bringing water levels at the giant Three Gorges Dam close to their maximum and triggering flood alerts on key lakes and rivers.
For the whole of last year, nationwide precipitation levels stood at about 700 millimetres, 10.3% higher than average and up 7.6% from a year earlier, with rainfall doubling in some areas of northeast and central China.
Global warming has made China increasingly vulnerable to extreme weather, including floods and heatwaves, Jia Xiaolong, deputy director of the National Meteorological Center, told reporters at the end of April.
On Sunday, an unexpected onslaught of hail, freezing rain and gales killed 21 runners during an ultramarathon race in the northwestern province of Gansu.
A tornado also hit Wuhan and another hit the eastern coastal province of Jiangsu this month, claiming 12 lives and leaving hundreds wounded.