According to the National Meteorological Administration, a red alert means that temperatures are expected to rise to 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) in the next 24 hours.
Authorities have also issued warnings for regions from central Shaanxi to the east coast of Jiangsu. Temperatures in Zhejiang, Sichuan and Yunnan provinces could rise above 40 degrees Celsius on Wednesday, according to the Central Meteorological Observatory.
Temperatures have been rising for days now, and on Sunday, Shanghai issued a red alert for the first time this year as the financial center reached 40 degrees Celsius, according to state-run tabloid The Global Times.
Shanghai has experienced just 15 days of temperatures above 40 degrees since the city began keeping records in 1873, the Shanghai Meteorological Service said Sunday.
Vendors in the city are reporting a surge in sales of ice cream, melons and crayfish chilled in liquor, a popular summer dish. Shanghai’s massive wildlife park uses eight metric tons of ice every day to house lions, pandas and other cool animals.
Other parts of the country, such as places in the southwest of the Sichuan Basin, have also experienced record high temperatures this year, according to The Global Times.
In the city of Chongqing, which has declared a red alert, the roof of a museum melted, traditional Chinese roof tiles bursting as heat dissolved the underlying resin. The city deployed water spray trucks to cool the roads.
Elsewhere, residents try to cool off in many ways. On Sunday, huge crowds in the city of Qingdao in the eastern province of Shandong gathered on the beach to swim in the sea. Children in Nanning, in the Guangxi region, played barefoot in public fountains. In Nanjing, Jiangsu province, residents instead headed to a bomb shelter to escape the heat, reading newspapers and watching TV to pass the time in Wi-Fi-equipped wartime bunkers.
In a statement, the Central Meteorological Observatory asked the local authorities to take measures to prevent heat stroke and fires. Residents should avoid outdoor activities and take protective measures, especially young people, the elderly and people with health problems, he added.
A summer of contrasts in China this year has brought chaos with both extreme heat and heavy rain. The authorities, citing climate change, have been warning against natural disasters since mid-July, usually the hottest and wettest time of the year.
China’s annual flood season traditionally begins in June and tends to be most severe in densely populated agricultural areas along the Yangtze River and its tributaries, but it has become more intense and dangerous in recent years, with experts warning that climate change could exacerbate the situation.
Additional information from Reuters.