13 May 2008

Weather in the earthquake affected areas

Posted by Dave Petley

It is now clear that very substantial numbers of landslides have been triggered by the earthquake in China. Continued landslide activity will be a very major problem during periods of heavy rain. Unfortunately the forecast is not good for the next few days. Xinhua reports:

Three rains are forecast to sweep earthquake-hit southwest China’s Sichuan, southern part of Gansu and Shannxi provinces and Chongqing Municipality in the next seven days, said the China Meteorological Administration on Tuesday. Light and moderate rain would hit much of the regions on Tuesday and Wednesday. The southern part of Sichuan jolted severely in the earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale Monday was likely to see heavy rainfalls and even thunderstorms, possibly increasing difficulties of the disaster relief work, said the national meteorological observatory. The latest weather report added that another two moderate showers were forecast in the regions on Saturday and next Monday. Yang Guiming, chief forecaster of the Central Meteorological Station (CMS) warned that lingering rains and thunderstorms may trigger geological disasters like landslides as rocks and the earth were pretty loose after the earthquake.”

This is supported by the forecast from the National Meteorological Agency for Tuesday:

SoftBreeze 3mph
Moderate rain
SoftBreeze 3mph

Unfortunately, thunderstorms are bad for landslides. This area of wet weather is quite clear on this satellite image, from Yahoo.