Alarm sounded against possible floods
Unusual weather patterns may lead to more floods this year.
A leading weather official Friday called for preparedness across the country as the flood season approaches.
Qin Dahe, head of China Meteorological Administration (CMA), warned "China may face a grim situation from seasonal floods or drought this year."
Probabilities of such disasters are increasing, he warned, quoting the latest predictions released Friday.
The rainy season has started in South China while the national flood season will follow soon, Qin said.
"Two major rain belts are predicted from the south to north between June and July."
In the north, the rain belt is likely to cover southern parts of Northeast China, northern and western parts of North China, most areas on the middle and upper reaches of the Yellow River and northern Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
In the south, the rain belt may linger on the skies over eastern and southern parts of the areas south of the Yangtze River with potential flooding.
This summer, prolonged drought may scorch the rest of the country with less rainfall expected.
From now on, Qin said, "all weathermen and their forecasting outfits should be in place to provide accurate weather forecasts for extremely climate changes."
He pledged to put all of modern meteorological facilities and resources into full operation, including satellites, digital radar systems, supercomputers and related data processing and transmitting networks.
To mitigate possible damage from calamities, Qin said, weather agencies must do a good job in collecting disaster-related information using updated high technology and sharing them with disaster relief departments.
He ordered heads of local meteorological agencies to carry out their duties in the front line of weather forecasting to provide accurate and timely forecast.
So far this year, most of the country has been plunged into severe drought due to fast temperature hikes.
The mercury has stood one or two degrees Celsius above normal in the north and vast areas on the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River.
Regional rainstorms, floods or waterlogging have, since earlier this spring, hit some provinces in central, east, south and southwest China with thunderstorms. Gales and hailstorms struck some areas.
Geologic hazards like mud-rock flows and landslides caused by intensified rains also caused considerable losses.
Last year, floods and drought in China led to economic losses totalling 200 billion yuan (US$24 billion) in 2003, said Zhang Zhitong, an official from the State Flood-Control and Drought-relief Headquarters.
The floods hit 30 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities across the country with 1,500 people killed, while droughts troubled 157 cities in 15 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities.