Beijing topped 40 degrees Celsius (104F) on Saturday for a record third day as the Chinese capital sweltered in extreme heat, while uncommonly high temperatures for June grilled an area the size of California in northern China.
At 1:51 p.m. (0551 GMT), the temperature measured by Beijing’s benchmark weather station in its southern suburbs briefly soared above 40C.
Until Saturday, the city of nearly 22 million people had never logged three straight days above 40C since setting up the southern observatory in 1951.
Aside from Beijing, parts of nearby Hebei, Henan, Shandong, Inner Mongolia and Tianjin either raised or kept their hot weather alert at “red”, the highest in China’s four-tier warning system.
A red alert signifies the temperature could exceed 40C within 24 hours.
As of 1:13 p.m., an area of 450,000 square km (174,000 square miles) had recorded temperatures over 37C, according to local media.
“Last year’s heatwave gives some sense of the risks to China’s food supply and the potential impact on prices,” Capital Economics wrote in a note on Friday.
“Another drought would hurt crop yields while livestock are vulnerable to high temperatures.”
On Saturday, state media reported ground surface temperatures in excess of 70C in parts of Shandong – China’s most populous province after Guangdong, and a key grower of grain.
On Friday, Beijing baked in temperatures as high as 40.3C, after sizzling at 41.1C on Thursday, the second-hottest day recorded by the Chinese capital in modern times.
Beijing’s all-time high of 41.9C was recorded on July 24, 1999.