Shanghai Weather is Becoming More Extreme Each Year

Apart from poor Shanghai air quality, Shanghai expats now must get used to ever more extreme Shanghai weather.

Many cities in China record new all-time temperature highs in the summer of 2013.

On July 26, 2013 Shanghai broke its all-time record high temperature of 40.2 degrees, set in 1934 at its Xujiahui weather reporting station, where it has been measuring temperatures since 1873. The new record hit 40.6 degrees. Some parts of Pudong saw temperatures as high as 42 degrees. Later on August 8th the record was broken again, hitting 40.8 degrees.

Shanghai issued several red alert warnings, the highest in its 3-colour extreme temperature alert system, signifying temperatures over 40 degrees. The Orange warning is for temperatures over 37 degrees, and yellow for those over 35 degrees.

Shanghai weather also broke its record for the number of extremely hot days, when the mercury climbed above 35 degrees, during the month of July. The old record was 23 days also set in 1934, with the new record being 25 extreme temperature days in the month.

Many Shanghai residents complained that the temperature was actually higher than that officially reported, and proved their point by showing thermometers placed on the ground with much higher readings. The argument was that the government was reporting lower temperatures in order to avoid the need to take certain costly measures, such as allowing municipal workers to stop work outdoors.

A senior forecaster at the National Meteorological Center, however, explained that this was due to the methodology for temperature measurement. China follows international standards and measures the temperature 1.5 meters off the ground.

How Shanghai Weather is Changing the Government

Shanghai municipal authorities had to take many measures to deal with this new record hot Shanghai weather, such as stopping outdoor work for many workers, providing air-conditioning, ice, water and fruits to animals at its zoos, covering plants in the city's parks to protect them from sunshine, and turning off all floodlights, except those on the Bund, to conserve electricity.

According to Li Defu, an official with the Shanghai Power Company, the city's electricity consumption reached 28.02 million kW on Wednesday July24th, a record high, definitely in large part due to increased use of air-conditioners. But he said there was no need to worry, as the company is able to cope with the surge and the city's grid remained stable.

Meteorologists at Shanghai Meteorological Bureau stated the large number of extremely hot days in July 2013 was due to the subtropical anticyclone in the western Pacific. At the time they did give residents some good news, however, stating that they expected a relatively cool August. This prediction turned out to be very wrong. From August 6th to August 9th, Shanghai experienced four consecutive days of 40 degree plus weather, for the first time in its history.

One of the few records which was not broken during the summer of 2013 was the total number of extreme temperature days above 35 degrees for the whole summer, which remains the 55 such days achieved in 1934.

High temperatures resulted in a significant increase in the number of patients in local hospitals. Feng Qiming, who works in the Emergency Department of Shanghai No 6 People's Hospita, said: "Many elderly people have chronic diseases which easily worsen in the summer heat, while young people have been staying in air conditioned rooms for a long time and consequently become sick."

Statistics from the Shanghai Health and Family Planning Commission reveal the toll taken on local residents due to the hot Shanghai weather. The city's large general hospitals faced an influx of patients, averaging 10,000 visits daily in July, an increase of 10 to 20 percent from June.

At least 11 people were reported to have died due to the extreme Shanghai weather in July 2013. Thousands of fish also became victims, as the water temperature in fish farms and local rivers reduced the amount of oxygen in the water.

Shanghai locals took various measures to cope with the hot weather, including frequenting public libraries and metro stations which have air-conditioning, as well as making use of Shanghai food delivery services to avoid the need to go to restaurants or travel to the supermarket for groceries. It was reported that more than 400 people took refuge in one Shanghai subway station alone.

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