People stand in the shade amid an orange alert for heatwave, at a shopping area in Beijing, China June 22, 2023. Image Credit: REUTERS

BEIJING: The temperature in Beijing breached 41 degrees Celsius on Thursday and shattered the record for the hottest day in June as heatwaves that had seared northern China a week earlier returned to the Chinese capital.

A weather station in the southern suburbs, considered to be Beijing’s main gauge, recorded 41.1°C (106 Fahrenheit) at 3:19pm (0719 GMT), according to the official Beijing Daily. The previous June high was logged on June 10, 1961, when the mercury hit 40.6°C.

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In Tanghekou in Beijing’s northeast, the temperature pushed even higher to 41.8°C helping the small township clinch the title of the hottest spot in China on Thursday.

Beijing has raised an orange alert, the second-most severe weather warning, saying temperatures could be as high as 39°C from Thursday to Saturday.

The 41.1°C logged on Thursday was the city’s second-highest in history. The warmest temperature recorded by the city of nearly 22 million people was 41.9°C on July 24, 1999.

Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei and Shandong in northern and eastern China were hammered by heatwaves last week, with the national weather bureau issuing an alert for heat stroke, almost a fortnight earlier than in previous years.

The heatwaves also prompted authorities to step up efforts to safeguard crops and ensure the safety of tourists. Outdoor work was also halted during the hottest part of the day.

In Tianjin, a port city with a population of over 13 million, increased demand for air-conditioning pushed its power grid load to 14.54 million kilowatts on June 15, up 23% from a year earlier, and spurred its utility department to dispatch workers to patrol underground tunnels every day to ensure electrical cables are in working order.

On Thursday, the temperature in Tianjin’s urban district reached 41.2C, smashing local records.

He Jiaxi, 23, who was visiting Beijing, said she was worried about electricity cuts after experiencing outages in nearby Hebei province in June last year.

“Last June (in Hebei), it was so hot in mid-June, and during this hot period, electricity was cut at noon. I’m definitely worried.” The latest round of heatwaves, coinciding with the Dragon Boat Festival long weekend in China, will also hit the northern Chinese region of Inner Mongolia and Xinjiang in the far west, according to the China Meteorological Administration.

China has a four-tier, colour-coded weather warning system, with red the most severe, followed by orange, yellow and blue.