Subscribe to our newsletter

     By signing up, you agree to our Terms Of Use.


    • About Us
    • |
    • Contribute
    • |
    • Contact Us
    • |
    • Sitemap

    Powerful Tornado Kills 5 as Extreme Weather Batters Guangdong

    The EF2 level tornado, with wind speeds strong enough to rip out entire roofs, extended for about 1 kilometer, with videos showing debris from factory buildings being swept into the air.

    Severe weather, including strong tornadoes, large hailstones, and heavy thunderstorms, swept across southern China’s Guangdong province this weekend, killing at least five people, injuring 33, and damaging several buildings.

    At around 3 p.m. on Saturday, a powerful tornado — classified as EF2, with wind speeds strong enough to remove entire roofs — struck near Liangtian Village near Guangzhou, the provincial capital of Guangdong.

    The tornado’s path extended for about 1 kilometer, affecting four villages, with videos circulated online showing debris from factory buildings being swept into the air.

    Local media reported that a store employee surnamed Zhu witnessed his shop’s rolling gate and the roofs of nearby factories being lifted by the wind. “The sky suddenly turned gray and a huge tornado lifted the rolling shutter,” Zhu said.

    The tornado caused multiple power lines to trip, disrupting the power supply in Taihe Town and Zhongluotan Town of Guangzhou’s Baiyun District. By early Sunday, authorities had launched a three-level emergency response for wind and flood prevention, dispatching over 300 repair personnel and power generation vehicles to ensure a temporary supply.

    Since mid-April, persistent heavy rainfall has battered Guangdong province, resulting in a “once-in-a-century” flood that isolated towns in the northern region last week.

    By 4 p.m. on Saturday, the Guangzhou National Station recorded 455.8 millimeters of rainfall for April, surpassing the previous record set in 1951. More than 30% of Guangdong’s counties and cities — 27 in total — have seen record-breaking rainfall this month.

    Typically, the province experiences about four tornadoes each year, with the majority occurring between April and August, peaking in July when nearly 30% of annual tornadoes, including the strongest, are recorded.

    In addition to the strong tornadoes on Saturday, large hailstones, described by domestic media as “the size of eggs,” damaged cars and roofs in Zengcheng District. On Saturday, at least five more districts of Guangzhou issued an orange hail warning. Multiple districts also issued the highest level warnings for heavy rain, thunderstorms, and strong winds.

    According to the China Meteorological Administration, these severe conditions are driven by an accumulation of warm and humid airflows, which have increased instability between the warmer ground and cooler air above, causing the formation of tornadoes and hail.

    Zhang Yuzhao, a 25-year-old postgraduate student in Panyu District, Guangzhou, recalled the intense downpours this past week. “I have never seen lightning so clearly. I am awakened by thunder every morning, and it rains a lot morning and night,” he told Sixth Tone.

    According to Zheng Zhihai, chief forecaster at the National Climate Center, the monsoon in southern China arrived earlier this year, partly due to climate change. “Temperatures in southern China are significantly higher than usual, leading to more water vapor and increased convection intensity, which results in more heavy precipitation events,” Zheng explained.

    He added that the El Niño event has strengthened the subtropical high pressure in the western Pacific since April, driving abundant water vapor from the South China Sea and the Bay of Bengal to the region.

    In the coming days, Guangzhou is expected to see more thunderstorms and heavy rain. Forecasters predict potential tornadoes and heavy rain over the next few days, with the weather during the weeklong May Day holiday, starting May 1, likely shifting to scattered thunderstorms and less rainfall.

    Additional reporting: Li Dongxu; editor: Apurva.

    (Header image: An aerial view of Chendong Village after the tornado in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, April 28, 2024. Chen Yimin/CNS/VCG)