2nd LD-Writethru-China Focus: Heavy rainstorms hit Beijing

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BEIJING, July 12 (Xinhua) -- Heavy rainstorms have lashed the Chinese capital Beijing since 6 p.m. Sunday with precipitation up to 198.9 mm as of 8 p.m. Monday, the municipal meteorological department said.

From 6 p.m. Sunday to 8 p.m. Monday, Beijing registered average rainfall of 103.9 mm. Urban areas in the city reported higher average precipitation of 114.8 mm.

A region in the suburban district of Yanqing received the most precipitation of 198.9 mm.

The Beijing municipality has issued yellow alerts for rainstorms, lightning, gales, and rain-triggered geological hazards.

Four suburban districts - Huairou, Miyun, Shunyi, and Pinggu - have upgraded their warnings to orange as rainstorms were likely to last till late Monday night or even early Tuesday morning. Local meteorological authorities warned against potential floods and geological disasters.

China has a four-tier color-coded weather warning system, with red representing the most severe warning, followed by orange, yellow, and blue.

As of 5 p.m. Monday, waters in all the reservoirs in Beijing were below the flood control levels. Water stored in large and medium-sized reservoirs increased by 24.72 million cubic meters to nearly 3.09 billion cubic meters in less than one and a half days, the Beijing Water Authority said.

The districts of Fangshan, Mentougou, Changping, Haidian, Shijingshan, Yanqing, and Huairou saw gales of up to nine grades, which means the wind speed topped 24.4 meters per second.

More than 2,900 personnel have done flood safety inspections on the city's main bridges and road facilities, the municipal flood control department said.

The weather department alerted people to heavy rainstorms and potential geological hazards and asked them to keep away from rivers and disaster-prone areas.

Kindergartens and primary and middle schools suspended classes on Monday and many parks and tourist destinations, particularly those in the mountainous regions, were closed starting Sunday noon.

The heavy rains also battered areas around Beijing, including Hebei, Tianjin, Shanxi, Henan, and Shandong, from Sunday to Monday, the National Meteorological Center said.

The rains disrupted railway traffic in Shanxi after flooding destroyed a railway bridge, and rain-triggered landslides buried parts of another rail line. Three pairs of trains suspended services, with nearly 1,000 railway workers racing against time to repair the lines.

On Sunday evening, the center issued the first orange alert for rainstorms this year, forecasting that precipitation in parts of north China could hit new records for July.

Zhang Fanghua, the chief forecaster at the center, said precipitation in parts of Hebei, Shanxi, and Henan had reached 220 mm to 342 mm, and seven national meteorological stations in Hebei and Henan exceeded earlier record levels for July.

The rains will likely weaken while moving northeastward and batter the provinces of Liaoning and Heilongjiang and the eastern part of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region on Tuesday, the National Meteorological Center said. Enditem

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