Heavy rainfall rarely seen in years hit Beijing on Wednesday, with traffic on the rails, roads and in the skies disrupted.
The capital raised its storm alert to orange, the second-highest of China’s four-tier warning system, as the city’s meteorological station forecast that the rain would continue until Wednesday night.
As of 4 p.m., the average precipitation in the capital reached 154.9 mm (6.10 inches), with the maximum precipitation of 392.4 mm (15.45 inches) recorded in the suburban district of Fangshan, according to the meteorological station.
According to the Beijing Railway Bureau, at least 60 trains from the city have been canceled since 6 p.m. Tuesday due to the rain and wind, while at least 13 more trains have had to return to their point of departure.
The air travel service has also been disrupted. By 8 p.m., 237 flights had been canceled at Beijing Capital International Airport due to the rain.
As of 2 p.m. Wednesday, 13 waterlogged road sections in downtown Beijing had been temporarily closed to traffic. Beijing Drainage Group Co., the company responsible for managing the city’s drains, said 3,102 workers have been dispatched to clear roadways.
A total of 164 bus routes had been affected by the storm as of 2:30 p.m., with services suspended or canceled on 14 of them, according to the Beijing Public Transportation Group.
The Beijing Municipal Flood Control Office issued a statement on Wednesday afternoon, urging people to limit their travel, take public transport, and stagger their commutes after work.
To inform the public of more detailed traffic conditions during the flood season, Beijing Traffic Management Bureau cooperated with digital map and navigation firm Autonavi and the map service of Baidu for the first time this year. If the city issued orange alert or more serious level for storm, Beijingers can see the waterlogged places on the navigation maps provided by the two map services.
Although the storm hampered traffic, it boosted the city’s online to offline (O2O) catering industry. The popular catering service offered by Baidu has seen an increase of over 40 percent on orders than usual on Tuesday and Wednesday’s.
The National Meteorological Center on Wednesday also maintained its orange alert for rainstorms across the country.
Three fatalities were confirmed in Shanxi Province, two in Henan Province, and another in neighboring Hebei Province after heavy rain hit north China starting Monday.
Tianjin Municipality, which neighbors Beijing, was also battered by torrential rain on Wednesday. Road traffic, air travel and public transport in Tianjin have been affected, according to the municipal government.
On Wednesday, the rain had caused the cancellation of 189 flights at Tianjin airport by 4 p.m.
From 7 a.m. Tuesday to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, average precipitation in the downtown area of Tianjin reached 218.5 mm (over 8 inches) with a maximum of 359.1 mm (over 14 inches) in Hexi District.
Besides Beijing, Hebei and Tianjin, torrential rain has also been forecast for parts of Liaoning, Jilin, Inner Mongolia, Shandong, Henan, Jiangsu, Anhui, Hubei, Hunan and Yunnan from Wednesday afternoon to Thursday afternoon, with rainfall of up to 240 mm(9.45 inches) in some places.
The National Meteorological Center advised people living in the affected areas to prepare for possible floods, landslides and mud and rock flows, and those that live in mountainous areas to move to safe places.
The governments of Shenyang City and Dalian City in northeast China’s Liaoning Province on Wednesday ordered all schools and kindergartens to stay closed on Thursday due to the storms.
China has a four-tier color-coded system for severe weather, with red being the most serious, followed by orange, yellow and blue.
Story by Xinhua News.