Shanghai’s highest temperature record was shattered again yesterday with a peak of 40.8 degrees Celsius recorded at the benchmark Xujiahui observatory at 12:37pm.
The city’s previous high of 40.6 degrees was reached on Tuesday and July 26.
Yesterday was the first time the city had experienced two consecutive days of temperatures over 40 degrees and the first year that three such days had been recorded since 1873.
The Shanghai Meteorological Bureau issued a red alert, the highest level, for high temperatures at 7:52am yesterday, the earliest alert.
Before this year’s searing heat, Shanghai’s hottest day, at 40.2 degrees, had been on July 12, 1934.
A temperature of 40 degrees is possible today or tomorrow, forecasters said, with the city expected to see at least five more sweltering days. But the extreme highs will come to an end after Saturday when a subtropical high moves north, they said.
The bureau said there had been 33 days with temperatures above 35 degrees this summer, including 19 days above 37 degrees and the three that topped 40.
Yesterday was liqiu, one of 24 Chinese solar terms and indicating the arrival of autumn. However, the official arrival of autumn won’t be declared until there are five straight days when temperatures are below 22 degrees, the bureau said.
“The city is still experiencing the hottest period of summer even at liqiu,” Man Liping, a chief service officer at the bureau, said. “There will also be another round of heat after liqiu.” The solar terms are a help to farmers to stay synchronized with the seasons, but Man said the traditional terms are more relevant to areas in the Yellow River basin.
Despite yesterday’s heat, there were still people working outdoors for long hours. “I need to work seven hours a day, starting from 5am,” Wang, who works for a local gardening company, said as he used a hosepipe to water an area of greenery in the city’s downtown area along with two co-workers.
“We are responsible for three landscape areas,” Wang said. “Although we do the watering more times and pump a larger amount of water each time, the sizzling weather has withered some of the grass and plants.”
Wang said his company gave him a two-hour lunch break from 10am to noon and he was being paid an extra 200 yuan as an allowance for the heat.
Some cities in the Yangtze River delta region created artificial rain to stave off drought but that’s not an option for Shanghai. Officials said earlier that artificial rainfall would pose problems for flights, and there was the possibility of injury from falling material used to seed the clouds.
Shanghai Daily readers sent in pictures of their thermometers yesterday with readings ranging from 41 to over 55 degrees at home, in green areas and in their cars.
Man said it was normal to see such readings under direct sunshine.
The weather bureau’s readings are recorded by a thermometer in a shelter usually 1.5 meters above the ground and away from direct sunlight, wind and rain — conditions set by the World Meteorological Organization.
Shanghai’s air quality deteriorated yesterday due to the heat with an AQI of 207 at 6pm indicating heavy pollution.
ThE high temperatures have at least one benefit — fewer mosquitoes.
The Shanghai Center for Disease Control and Prevention said the density of mosquitoes had fallen by 20 percent compared to the same period last year.
Dr Leng Pei’en, director of the center’s vector control department, said: “Their activity is impacted if the temperature is higher than 35 degrees.”
The director said development of their eggs and larva was also slowed down by the heat wave and they could even die under such high temperatures.
The persistent heat wave seems to have confused the magnolia trees.
One near the crossing of Gaoke and Qiheng roads in the Pudong New Area is currently in bloom in an unusual sight that many people captured on camera, posting their pictures online. Magnolia trees normally bloom in the spring.
Huang Weichang, an expert at the Chenshan Botanic Garden, said it usually took 10 months for magnolia buds to develop and then be ready to bloom in the spring.
Continuous high temperatures could contribute to early blossoming, Huang said, but this was very rare.
Vegetable prices up
The price of green vegetables more than doubled and even tripled in some cases over the past two weeks due to the scorching heat affecting growth, Hou Yuxin, manager of Shanghai Punan Agricultural Wholesale Market, said yesterday.
For example, the price of cowpeas had risen from 4 yuan (36 US cents) to 12 yuan per kilogram over the past fortnight.
Hou said the strong sunshine and high temperatures had dried out seedlings and stopped some vegetables maturing.
Some 30 percent of vegetables at local markets are locally produced while 70 percent are from out of town. As the supply of local vegetables declines, the price of out-of-town vegetables rises, Hou said.