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August 21, 2012

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Storms inundate city; more expected today

HUNDREDS of flights were delayed and several dozen streets flooded yesterday afternoon when thunderstorms and heavy showers suddenly struck Shanghai.

The storms, caused by the expansion of cold air and the weakening of the subtropical high over the city, are likely to occur again today and tomorrow as a weak cold front is on the move, according to the Shanghai Meteorological Bureau.

"Summertime severe convection weather should be repeated in the next two days but may occur in different areas of Shanghai," said Zhang Ruiyi, a chief service officer of the bureau.

Today is forecast to be cloudy with thundershowers in the afternoon and the maximum temperature of 34 to 35 degrees Celsius, the bureau said. The showery weather should last until Friday and the high should drop to around 32 degrees starting tomorrow.

The bureau issued a yellow rainstorm alert, lowest of the three-color system, at 12:24pm before dark clouds covered the city.

The thunderstorm, accompanied by heavy winds, poured rain on the city around 1:15pm and doused many commuters. The rain kept up, causing the bureau to upgrade the alert to orange, the second highest level, at 1:58pm.

Shanghai's Hongqiao International Airport was heavily affected as almost all flights were grounded by 3pm yesterday. Heavy rainfall also halted some flights at the Pudong International Airport.

Officials said more than 30 flights bound for Hongqiao were diverted to Pudong airport or airports in neighboring cities of Nanjing and Hangzhou due to the bad weather.

Others were delayed. China Airlines' Flight CI201 from Taiwan to Shanghai had to circle the Hongqiao airport for more than half an hour before it finally landed, said police based at the airport. The situation did not improve until after 4pm, according to officials at the airports.

A ferry service on the Huangpu River was canceled because of strong winds, the city's traffic authority said.

More than 20 streets were flooded, according to Shanghai Flood Control Headquarters.

Yesterday's downpour mostly was concentrated in the city's central, west and north areas and hourly precipitation was between 60 to 70 millimeters on average, according to the headquarters.

Hongkou and Zhabei districts had the most rainfall yesterday with the precipitation exceeding 100 millimeters. The Luxun Park area of Hongkou had the most rain - 140 millimeters.

Floods were reported along more than 20 streets in Hongkou, Minhang and Zhabei districts. Water that accumulated at an overpass in the airport area in Minhang reached 40 centimeters deep.

More than 1,000 flood control employees were dispatched yesterday.

Although flooding was spotted by residents, some of whom posted pictures on the Internet, the city's drainage authority considered the drainage system to have worked fine.

"We started to pre-evacuate our pipes right after the weather bureau issued the yellow alert and all of the pump stations worked fine during the rain," said Zhuang Minjie, an official with the department.

Meanwhile, in the western Pacific, Tembin was upgraded to a strong typhoon yesterday and was moving north at a speed of 10 kilometers per hour. The typhoon should not influence Shanghai in the next two days, the bureau said.

The No. 15 subtropical storm Bolaven was formed at 2pm yesterday in the western Pacific, 2,220 kilometers from Taipei. But it's not clear whether it will influence China or not.


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