High temperature, cloudy weather and little precipitation, That's the weather forecast for the next few days in the quake-hit areas.
Quake survivors can breathe easy for the time being because the China Meteorological Administration (CMA) said yesterday that little or no rainfall is expected in Sichuan, Gansu and Shaanxi provinces.
This lessens the threat of quake lakes breaking their barriers or overflowing in the coming days, and causing more human and material damage in the disaster areas.
Landslides triggered by the May 12 quake blocked many rivers in the mountains and formed 35 quake lakes.
Temperatures will remain high, about 26-30 C outdoors and 31-35 C inside tents, during the next few days, the CMA said, and advised those living in temporary shelters to maintain proper ventilation and avoid going out in the sun.
The CMA forecast said there will be no precipitation in Wenchuan, Maoxian, Dujiangyan, Beichuan, Qingchuan or Chengdu in the next few days. Though light rain has been forecast in some areas, the precipitation level will not be more than 5 mm an hour.
The forecast that ruled out the chances of precipitation will be welcomed by rescue teams, too, for they will get more time now to drain out the lake waters and move the threatened people to safety.
Take the quake lake on Tangjiashan, for example, which was formed after landslides blocked the Jianjiang River near Beichuan. Once the water breaches its bank, it can sweep away people and much of whatever remains in one of the worst hit counties.
That's why emergency workers wanted to evacuate another 80,000 people from the river's downstream area by midnight yesterday.
"The rescue team in Beichuan was upset by the earlier weather forecast," said Yang Lei, a reporter with a Chinese language media house. But now they can relax a bit.
"The earlier forecast had said Beichuan would be lashed by heavy rain. But thankfully, it didn't come true," said Yang, who visited the county on Saturday.
Jin Ronghua, deputy director of the National Weather Forecast Center under the CMA, however, said heavy rain hit Sichuan as had been forecast. It just missed Beichuan.
"Rainfall was heavy the precipitation level was more than 100 mm an hour in some places. But since the rain belt was long and narrow, Beichuan escaped its fury.
"And even if little or no rain has been forecast for the next few days, we advise rescuers to be fully prepared for any eventuality," she said.
The geography of Sichuan is very complicated with basins in the east, plateaus in the west, mountains in the south-central and highland swamps in the north-central areas. "Such a topography makes flawless weather forecast very difficult," she said.
(China Daily May 28, 2008)