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Yunnan facing water crisis

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Kunming's notoriously dreary rainy season was much shorter than usual this year, which translated to a greater number of sunny, blue-sky days. Few complained about the extra pleasant days at the time, but it appears the consequences are around the corner, according to a Dushi Shibao report.

According to the Yunnan Provincial Meteorological Bureau, from January 1 to November 15 of this year, average rainfall totaled 843.3 millimeters, or 233.5 millimeters less than the same period last year. It is the lowest average rainfall for the province on record.

Provincial meteorological officials speaking to local media yesterday said that Yunnan was in a state of drought. Furthermore, they said, although the current cold weather has reduced the chances of wildfires, the recent precipitation is nowhere near what is needed to bring the province out of drought.

In addition to less precipitation, this year has been warmer, with the average temperature across the province reaching 25.1 Celsius (77.1 Fahrenheit), 1.5 degrees higher than in 2008 – this is also a new record.

Due to the insufficient amount of water stored in reservoirs throughout the province, the period leading up to the rainy season in late spring next year is expected to be difficult for much of the province. Officials noted that although Kunming's Yunlong and Songhuaba reservoirs were lower than usual, city residents were in no danger of a water shortage, at least in 2010.

With regard to the current cold weather covering the province, a bureau spokesperson said that from tomorrow through Sunday, the province will experience another noticeable drop in temperatures. During this period, rain, sleet and snow are expected to fall upon much of the province, including Kunming.

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