The strongest rainstorm this summer pelted most of Beijing on Wednesday, offering residents temporary relief from the sweltering weather.
Downpours and gales hit the south of the city at 11:00 AM and gradually moved northeast, covering 100 km, according to Beijing Meteorological Station.
Meteorological experts said it was the strongest rainstorm this summer and the station issued a rainstorm and gust warning at 1:40 PM.
The temperature dropped to 30 degrees Celsius, and a maximum of 33 degrees Celsius is forecast for the next three days as more thundershowers are coming, according to weather forecasts.
Most suburban districts received downpours while downtown areas experienced moderate rain. The suburban district of Fengtai registered a highest rainfall of 56 mm by 3:00 PM.
The downtown area was cloaked in almost complete darkness shortly after midday when a strong thundershower and gusting winds hit. Lights came on in office buildings as the daylight disappeared for about 10 minutes.
People without umbrellas were wading through water to seek shelters.
Surface flooding forced some buses to make detours. Many public transport workers were dispatched to drain water or check bus routes especially around mountainous outlying areas to ensure traffic safety.
More than 200 additional buses stood by to help alleviate traffic during the evening rush hour.
Some subway stations provided disposable raincoats to passengers and placed boards at the entrance against water inflow.
The rain came after sweltering weather hovered around Beijing for a couple of days. The maximum temperature was 37 degrees Celsius on Tuesday, when the electricity demand in the city hit a record as more people turned on air-conditioners.
Beijing power grid reported a peak 11.22 million kw in electricity consumption by 5:00 PM. Tuesday, the highest in history. The maximum capacity this year was 13 million kw, according to Beijing Electric Power Co. under the State Grid.
Local meteorological authorities issued high-temperature warnings twice on Monday, warning people of the possibility of heatstroke.
Neighboring Tianjin recorded 37.3 degrees Celsius on Tuesday, while Shijiazhuang, capital of Hebei Province, saw the temperature rise to 39.7 degrees Celsius on Monday, the highest in eight years.
(Xinhua News Agency June 28, 2007)