Heavy 'plum rain' returns to already soaked central, southern China this week

Maura Kelly

After a brief reprieve from heavy rain, areas across eastern and southern China will be bracing themselves as flooding downpours continue across the area this week.

A fresh round of drenching rain and thunderstorms returned to parts of eastern China this week, where rivers are already running high, as the wet season continues.

Heavy rain and storms began to build across this region Sunday night and into Monday, prompting rescues and evacuations.

On Monday, flooding downpours impacted villages and towns across Tongzi County in the Guizhou province with reports of water as high as 4 meters (12 feet) in the streets of Mugua Town, according to CCTV News.

There have been reports of three deaths and over 4,000 people in need of assistance after landslides hit portions of the province.

Record-setting conditions are developing in Chongqing as the Chongqing Hydrological Monitoring Station issued the first red flood warning for the Qijiang River since the station was built in 1940, stated a report from China Daily.

According to the report, the monitoring station issued this warning at noon on Monday, local time, as water levels at the station were expected to surpass the safe level, 201.51 meters (661.12 feet), by about 5.7 to 6.3 meters (18.7 to 20.7 feet).

Video shows water cascading off a large wall in Chongqing after heavy rainfall.

About 40,000 people were evacuated from the area as the highway along the river began to fill with water.

The wet season, sometimes called the 'plum rain', typically begins during late spring or early summer as the mei-yu front sets up over the region.

The mei-yu front is a largely stationary feature that develops over southeastern China and Taiwan. Rounds of heavy rain and thunderstorms track across this front and threaten to produce devastating flash flooding and high rivers.

Rain and thunderstorms that began to develop across central China on Sunday night became heavier and more widespread on Monday.

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Daily rainfall totals of 50-100 mm (2-4 inches) will be common as rounds of downpours track across the region into Thursday.

The heaviest rain is expected to fall across parts of Yunnan, Guizhou, Hunan, Hubei and Anhui. In some areas, rainfall amounts can climb to 100-200 mm (4-8 inches) into the middle of the week.

An AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 300 mm (12 inches) will be possible in these areas, especially in the mountainous terrain.

Hard-hit Chongqing is expected to have lighter rainfall through the rest of the week, though any additional rain could worsen the ongoing flooding.

Rainfall of this amount can lead to devastating flooding across an area that has already been hit hard by torrential rain this month. Already saturated ground and overburdened drainage systems will cause flooding to be more likely than normal.

The risk of mudslides will also be high throughout the week.

During the second half of the week, the heaviest rainfall is forecast to shift south and may be limited to the coastal areas of southeastern China. While this may raise the risk of flooding in the area, drier conditions are expected in central regions.

After days of rainstorms, Tonggu town was partially flooded, cornfields and main roads have been damaged, which must have been 1 meter deep, Youyang County of Chongqing, China, 13 June, 2020. (Reuters via local media)

Flooding rainfall in Guizhou, Hunan and Guangxi provinces as well as Chongqing municipality led to the deaths or disappearances of dozens of people earlier in the month. Hundreds of thousands of people were also forced from their homes as floodwaters inundated cities.

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