As China’s heatwave hits 104 °F in a slew of cities, people get creative about cooling off

China's Transition
China's Transition

The heatwave that settled over China for more than a month now is proving unrelenting, breaking 104 °F (40 °C) in more than 40 cities this month. Temperatures are projected to climb to almost 106 °F along the eastern seaboard and in Xinjiang over the next few days. Here’s how things currently look across the country, via IT Times (registration required):

It’s hot enough already that, earlier today, TV reporters fried pork on a Shanghai sidewalk (registration required):

pork heatwave

The “sauna weather,” as it’s called, is starting to take its toll. Several have died of heat strokes already, including construction workers (links in Chinese), many of whom are migrants with weak worker protections and limited health care benefits. Xinhua reported that the mortality rate for heat strokes could be as high as 50%-70% (registration required) due to lack of timely treatment. Meanwhile, a drought in Guizhou has left 1 million without a steady supply of water (video), with electricity and water usage off the charts in many other cities as well.

As temperatures soared, people all over China devised ways of beating the heat, driving what some call “the heatwave economy” (link in Chinese). On Taobao, China’s eBay-cum-Amazon, searches for heat deterrents are up, with a PR rep reporting 2.5 times as many fan sales as last year. Meanwhile, restaurants and groceries are doing brisk business in deliveries (link in Chinese).

Some have sought more active ways of cooling off. Around 15,000 people in Sichuan province, where the high was 100 °F, thronged a wave pool in a resort near “China’s Dead Sea.” Online commenters quickly arrived at a name for them: “boiling dumplings” (link in Chinese). Along with “heatwave” and “heatstroke,” “China’s Dead Sea” was among the top most discussed items on social network Sina Weibo today. Here’s a roundup of how folks around China are beating the heat:

Imaginechina via AP Images
(Imaginechina via AP Images)

In Shanghai, today was the hottest day in recorded history, with temperatures hitting 105 °F. Those without air conditioning found refuge from the heat in this supermarket, via @samgeall:


Also in Shanghai, a migrant construction worker hoses off:

A Chinese migrant worker hoses water on his body to cool down at a construction site on a scorching day in Shanghai, China, 10 July 2013. No relief from the heat is expected for at least five days in Shanghai with a high of 37 degrees Celsius and lots of sun forecast on Thursday (18 July 2013). Friday will also be sunny and the high hits 38 degrees as the heat wave will continue through the weekend, the Shanghai Meteorological Bureau said. On Wednesday, the high reached 35.4 degrees. It was the 13th high temperature day of 35 degrees or above this month. According to the weather bureau, it was the second longest period for high temperature days since records started being kept in 1873. In 1934, 16 high temperature days were recorded on July 1-17. Wednesday also marked the 15th high temperature day this summer, the bureau said.(Imaginechina via AP Images
(Imaginechina via AP Images)

Many around China ducked into subways in search of some cool. A glimpse at that tactic in Hangzhou:

Children sleep on the floor of the Qiaosi subway station in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province July 25, 2013. More than 600 people cooled off inside the subway station as temperatures in the city hit a high of 40 degrees Centigrade during a regional power outage on Thursday. Picture taken July 25, 2013. REUTERS/Stringer

In Wuhan, students at Central China Normal University began finding refuge in the air conditioned gym back in late June, when the heat wave began (most college dorms in China lack air-conditioning). Temperatures hit 104 °F there today:

College students sitting on bamboo/straw mats at a air-conditioned school gym to escape the sweltering heat in their dorms, which are not air-conditioned, in Wuhan, central Chinas Hubei province, 21 June 2013. Temperatures in half of China hit 35 Celsius (95 F). In Wuhan, one of the three hot pots along the Yangtze River, temperature soared to as high as 39 C, with very high humidity. Chinese college dorms, which are mostly not air-conditioned, are the worst-hit. Having no AC at their dorms, students at Wuhan-based Central China Normal University had to sleep on bamboo/straw mats in the air-conditioned school gym during the night to escape the summer heat.(Imaginechina via AP Images
(Imaginechina via AP Images)

When it comes to hydrating zoo animals, the key is apparently plying them with watermelons (link in Chinese). A worker at Xian Qinling Zoo tries to cool down monkeys with watermelon:

A Chinese worker distributes watermelon slices to monkeys to cool them down at XiAn Qinling Zoological Park on a scorching day in XiAn city, northwest Chinas Shaanxi province, 9 July 2013. Many parts of China have been in the grip of a heat wave. The blue alert for high temperatures issued by meteorological authorities remains in effect across the country. Temperatures in a number of Chinese cities soared to between 37 to 38 degrees Celsius.(Imaginechina via AP Images
(Imaginechina via AP Images)

More than 100,000 people squeezed onto this Dalian beach in northern China (registration required). The brutal heat is proving a boon to China’s beach resorts, like this one:

dalian heatwave

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