While the U.S. is undergoing drought and the propospect of rising food costs, the heaviest rainfall in 61 years fell on the Chinese capital city of Beijing on July 21, 2012. The state news agency Xinhua at first said that 37 people had been killed by floods during and after the downpour, but today (July 26, 2012) the official death toll was raised to 77, according to Associated Press.
The image above is from NASA’s great Earth Observatory site. It shows rainfall totals from July 21 and 22, 2012. The heaviest rainfall — more than 175 millimeters (7 inches) — appears in dark blue. The lightest rainfall — less than 25 millimeters or 1 inch — appears in light green. Trace amounts of rain appear in yellow.
Xinhua reported that rainfall over Beijing averaged 170 millimeters (almost 7 inches), and reached 460 millimeters (18 inches) in the city’s Fangshan District. Most of the deaths occurred in that district.
Deaths resulted from drownings, collapsed buildings, lightning, and electrocutions from downed power lines, news reports said. In mountainous areas outside the city, more than 30,000 residents had to evacuate in case of landslides.
Bottom line: The Chinese news agency Xinhua at first said that 37 people had been killed by floods during and after the heaviest rain in 61 years in Beijing on July 21. Today (July 26, 2012), the official death toll was raised to 77.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.