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August 18, 2010

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Rainstorm floods city streets as temps cool

LIGHTNING and thunder repeatedly struck the afternoon sky. Then came torrential rain.

The year's heaviest thunderstorm hammered Shanghai yesterday afternoon, cooling off the city after days of sweltering heat, but also forcing dozens of flight disruptions and flooding many areas of the city, authorities said.

As weathermen issued a rare "red rainstorm alert," at least 20 flights were forced to avoid Hongqiao Airport and land instead at Pudong International Airport or in Hangzhou or Ningbo in Zhejiang Province, authorities said. Another 10 flights were delayed.

At least 10 streets flooded in the downtown Jing'an District, where 88 millimeters of rain accumulated in less than three hours, the most in the city, said Shanghai's flood control headquarters. Most of the rain fell downtown and in the north and west parts of the city, including the Luwan, Changning, Pudong, Xuhui and Zhabei districts, with the precipitation in all these districts exceeding 50 millimeters.

"The rain was so heavy that I couldn't see the road clearly nor even hear the radio in my car," said a driver surnamed Jiang.

The temperature yesterday got no higher than 34.8 degrees Celsius under the impact of the storm, according to the Shanghai Meteorological Bureau.

Heat to return

However, the heat is coming back today along with clouds and thundershowers, with the mercury to top 36 degrees, the weathermen said. Tomorrow is forecast sunny to cloudy, with the high climbing back to 37 degrees.

As yesterday's storm gained in intensity, the meteorological bureau issued the red rainstorm alert, the highest of the four-level system - the first of this year and second in two years - at 3:40pm, warning that rainfall could accumulate to 100 millimeters within three hours and urging people to stay indoors.

"The temperatures these days were high, during which a lot of energy had been accumulated in the atmosphere, which caused the severe convection weather," said Wu Rui, a chief service officer of the bureau. "Red rainstorm alerts are not usual in the city's history."

The chance of more afternoon thundershowers in coming days still looms large, according to Wu.


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