Monday, June 2, 2014

Record May Heat Wave in Northeast China, Koreas

An unprecedented late May heat wave has baked northeastern China and the Koreas the past several days. Beijing observed an all-time May monthly high temperature record of 41.1°C (106.0°F) on May 30th. South Korea broke its all-time national heat record for the month of May and Mongolia came close to such.

A dome of high pressure over northeastern China has resulted in some remarkable temperatures for the region the past few days. Beijing saw its May monthly record high temperature shattered on Thursday when a reading of 40.2°C (104.4°F) was measured, only to see that figure in turn overtaken by a 41.1°C (106.0F) on Friday May 30th. The previous May record for Beijing was 38.3°C (100.9°F) on May 14, 1968. Beijing’s all-time record high remains a 42.6°C (108.7°F) temperature measured in June 1942. Tianjin reached 40.5°C (104.9°F) on May 30th which ties its all-time heat record for any month.

In the city of Shijiazhuang, 180 miles southwest of Beijing, the temperature peaked at 42.8°C (109.0°F) on May 30th, just short of the city’s all-time (any month) record of 42.9°C (109.2°F) set on July 15, 2002. This is almost as warm as what may be the all-time May record for China of 43.6°C (110.5°F) set in Turpan on May 28-29, 1965 according to climatologist Maximilliano Herrera. However, the Turpan Depression, which is a thousand miles west of Shijiazhuang, is the ‘Death Valley’ of the nation and scorching temperatures in May are not unusual. Bught, China smashed its all-time heat record (for any month) with a 38.0°C (100.4°F) reading on May 31st (old record was 36.8°C/98.2°F set on July 24, 2001).

The heat has been notable in the Koreas as well. In South Korea the temperature peaked at 37.4°C (99.3°F) at Taegu on May 31st and in North Korea 36.1°C (97.0°F) at Hamheung on May 29th. The South Korean figure was an all-time national record for the month of May surpassing the previous record of 37.0°C (98.6°F) set at Jinju on May 25, 2000.

Mongolia came close to setting its all-time May heat record with a 36.7°C (98.1°F) temperature at Khalkh Gol on May 31st. The May record of 37.0°C (98.6°F) set at Sainshand on May 26, 1974 still stands.

Elsewhere in China, flooding has receded in the southern and central provinces following a week of torrential rains. Guangdong Province was especially hard hit accounting for 17of the 37 flood-related fatalities reported in the region. 25,000 homes were also reportedly destroyed. Shanwei City (about 75 miles east of Hong Kong)measured 400 mm (15.75”) of rainfall during the period of May 17-20 and 844 mm (33.23”) for the entire month as of May 30th.

Christopher C. Burt
Weather Historian

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