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May 26, 2012

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This summer will be wet and wild, forecasters say

SHANGHAI is expected to experience more typhoons and rainy days but fewer high-temperature days than normal during this year's flood season that starts next month, forecasters say.

More than two typhoons - the average annual number during the past decade - are predicted to influence Shanghai from the Pacific Ocean with serious winds and precipitation, said Tang Xu, director of the Shanghai Meteorological Bureau.

Tang outlined three major routes of Pacific typhoons that could influence the city: those heading northwest that usually land in Fujian Province, those going north and passing Zhejiang Province and Shanghai, and those heading northeast and closely passing the city above the East China Sea. He said the city should be most concerned about the second possibility, which could cause the most damage to the city.

"Typhoons on such a route decreased in the past years but they may bounce back," Tang said. "Such storms may land in Zhejiang and Fujian provinces and then head north to cause serious damage in the west part of Shanghai."

Because of more storms, more rainfall is expected and the plum rain season may begin earlier than the average of the past decade, Tang said. Total precipitation should increase 20 percent.

"The city usually entered the plum rain season (which lasts about a month) around June 18 during the past decade but the date may shift earlier this year," Tang said. "We should also have 20 percent more than the average 210 millimeters of precipitation."

Tang said the increased rainfall will be caused by frequent clashes of cold and warm air. The forecast is based on an analysis of currents in the ocean, warm air masses in the tropics and cold air in the north.

A regional alert system is expected to be launched by the bureau this summer to warn of thundershowers and torrential downpours in the city.

The trend of increasing rainfall started at the beginning of this year, as most of southern China experienced a 20-year high of precipitation, Tang said. From January to March, Shanghai had 47 rainy days, the third-most in history, with 289.5 millimeters of precipitation.

Shanghai's flood-control system may face a challenge at times when big storms hit, partly because there will be 28 occasions of very high tides - those at or above 4 meters - during the season, said the city's flood-control headquarters yesterday.

There is a speck of good news for locals, as the summer should not be quite as hot as normal, Tang said. The summer is forecast to have 23 days with highs hitting 35 degrees Celsius or higher, and six days with at least 37 degrees.

Both figures are slightly below average, as the city usually gets 26 35-degree days and eight 37-degree days in summer.

The high temperature days will come mainly in July and August.


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