Worst drought in 63 years hits Liaoning province in northeast China

Liaoning averaged 90mm across the province in July, compared with 165mm usually, and August looks to be just as dry

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 August, 2014, 2:29pm
UPDATED : Friday, 15 August, 2014, 12:45am

Liaoning province in northeast China is experiencing its most severe drought in 63 years, affecting more than two million hectares of crops and leaving 136,000 people without water, Xinhua reports. The province received only 90mm of rainfall in July, the least since 1951, when the average July rainfall is 165mm.

Western Liaoning has been hit hardest by the dry spell, including cities such as Dalian, Huludao, and Chaoyang. Farmers in areas affected most by the drought may also see their crop yield cut by half if the dryness continues. Some are electing to abandon their stunted grain stalks in favour of cultivating greenhouse vegetables in hopes of making a better winter profit. Liaoning produced over two million tonnes of grain in 2012, around 5 per cent of the country’s output.

“We’ve tried our best and distributed more than 3,000 water pumps,” an official from Xincheng told People’s Daily, “But the drought came too hard and too fast. More than 26,000 hectares of our crops are lost out of 53,000 hectares planted.”

Meteorologists said that the drought became worse later in July, and that August would be equally dry.

Liaoning officials issued a third-degree meteorological disaster drought warning on August 8 and paid out 19 million yuan (HK$24 million) in emergency disaster funds to fight the drought. Officials also say they have put into use 218 artificial rocket systems and three artificial aircraft to try to increase rainfall.

Meteorologists are blaming the widespread droughts nationwide this summer on El Niño, the warm oceanic phase that created a southeastern high pressure zone in the Pacific, blocking moist air from reaching northeast China.

Mainland grain prices may rise this autumn as many of its largest grain-producing provinces are seeing cutbacks because of the droughts. Henan, Shaanxi and Jilin, which are also combating droughts, combined to produce more than 17 per cent of the nation’s total grain in 2012.