Xinjiang sizzles under fierce sun

URUMQI – Summer’s first round of heat waves hit most parts of Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region on Thursday, with blisteringly high temperatures expected to torture southern Xinjiang in the next three days, according to Xinjiang Meteorological Bureau.

Because of the high temperatures, the meteorological authority of the region’s capital city, Urumqi, on Wednesday issued a red alert, the most serious level in China’s four-color heat warning system.

Wei Rongqing, chief weather forecaster of Xinjiang Meteorological Bureau, told China Daily that the temperature in Urumqi on Wednesday reached 38.1 C, while the top temperature there last summer was 37.4 C. This suggested that more heat waves will bake the capital city this summer.

As the first heat wave arrived, Turpan, the tourist destination that is about 194 km from Urumqi, welcomed an influx of tourists.

In spite of the earth surface temperature reaching 76 C on Wednesday, more than 20,000 tourists came to experience the burning heat in the Flaming Mountain scenic area of Turpan.

“The heat wave here is like red-hot peppers, burning and dry,” said Li Fengling, a tourist from Wuhan, a city dubbed one of the “three furnaces” in China.

Li said the heat wave in Turpan made a deep impression on her.

“The heat in Turpan is totally different from the heat in inland China, with the latter being sauna-like with high humidity,” she said. “It’s an interesting experience to visit Turpan on dog days.”

Salim, who offers a Polaroid service for visitors at the scenic spot, was happily showing tourists how to bake eggs in sand under the scorching sunshine.

“These eggs will become hard-baked after an hour in the sands here,” Salim said, inviting tourists to have a try.

Xu Qiang, an employee of the Grape Valley scenic area under the Flaming Mountain, said he doubts the accuracy of weather forecasts these days.

“The mercury will climb to 45 C on Thursday, according to the weather forecast,” Xu said. “But to me it feels more like over 50 C, as I can’t bear to stand still outside for a few seconds because the soles of my shoes are likely to melt.

“The heat has been unbearable since early July, and five to six tourists suffered from heat exhaustion on Wednesday.”

Rather than attracting tourists with “record heat” as Turpan does, Tianchi Lake, or Heavenly Lake, which is 100 km east of Urumqi, provides people with an ideal escape from the blistering heat.

“Tianchi is a cool place to visit,” said a tourist surnamed Li. “We quite enjoy the snow mountains, crystal water and cool breeze here.”

With the highest temperatures around the lake staying below 30 C, the number of tourists has risen by 30 percent recently, according to Liu Ying, a member of the Tianchi Lake managerial committee.

“More than 8,000 tourists visited the lake on Wednesday,” Liu said. “They came here as the temperature was at least 13 C lower than it was in nearby cities, such as Changji and Urumqi,” Liu said.

Due to the extreme weather, there has been strong demand for water in cities in northern Xinjiang, including Shihezi, Kuitun and Urumqi.

“According to current water consumption rates, the city still needs nearly 10,000 cubic meters of water a day for residents’ use,” said Chen Bing, deputy manager of the water supply company in Kuitun.

Workers have finished digging 26 wells, which will supply Urumqi with extra drinking water during the heat wave. The wells will supply water to more than 20,000 households, local authorities said.

Xinjiang meteorological authorities said rain is expected from Thursday to Saturday in northern Xinjiang, which will help to ward off the effects of the heat wave. But the hot weather will not leave southern Xinjiang, including Turpan, Toksun and Hotan, until next week.

On the Chinese lunar calendar, July 14 is the first day of sanfu – the three periods of the hottest days of the year, which usually occur in July and August. But, except for Xinjiang, rain fell in most parts of China on Thursday, and the temperatures were not “unbearably hot”, according to the National Meteorological Center.

Source: China Daily

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