Natural Disasters

Warming China: Shanghai, other cities in Yangtze Basin issue red alerts

Shanghai has issued three red alerts in the past five days

By Karthik Krishna
Published: Friday 15 July 2022
Photo: Lijian Zhao @zlj517 /

The Yangtze Basin in China has been experiencing an unusual heatwave since the past one week, with mega cities in its basin ranging from Chongqing to Shanghai affected, according to media reports.

Chongqing, one of the four municipalities of China directly under the rule of the central government (besides Beijing, Tianjin and Shanghai) witnessed four consecutive days with temperatures of 40 degrees Celsius (°C) or above.


Forecasters predict that Chongqing, the largest municipality in China, will see another two days of temperatures above 33 degrees. Eighty-six red alerts had been issued by 5:00 pm July 14, 2022 throughout China, with the Yangtze Basin receiving the majority of them

Meanwhile, Shanghai, China’s most populous city issued its highest alert for extreme heat this week. The megacity registered a temperature of 40.9°C July 13, which was equal to its highest since records began in 1873.

The city of 25 million people declared its third red alert of the year on July 14, warning of temperatures above 40°C in the next 24 hours.  

Temperatures rose to a maximum of 40.6°C in the afternoon, however, still short of July 13’s 40.9°C, similar to a 2017 record. The warning was in effect as of 5:00 pm July 14.

‘Red’ is the highest of a three-tier colour-coded warning system. Outdoor operations, including construction work, has to be scaled back or stopped, whenever a red alert is issued.

Shanghai has witnessed a dramatic increase in the number of extremely hot days since 2009, according to a report by the South China Morning Post.

The city has recorded 15 days when the temperature exceeded 40°C since that date. Forty degrees has been recorded only twice before 2009.

Only 17 red alerts have been recorded since 1873, when record-keeping began. But Shanghai was forced to issue three red alerts in the past five days.

China’s maximum power load reached an all-time high July 12 due to increased demand for air cooling.

The provinces of Gansu, Qinghai, Shaanxi and Sichuan as well as the autonomous region of Ningxia have also seen record-breaking high temperatures.

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