The National Meteorological Center (NMC) forecast Wednesday that heavy rains will sweep northwest and north China while high temperatures will continue to scorch the south over the next three days.

Heavy rains are expected to pound north China and eastern parts of the northwest in the following 24 hours, the NMC said.

Thunderstorms and gales will hit parts of Shaanxi, Shanxi, Jiangsu and Hainan provinces as well as the southern coast of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, it said.

The NMC continued to issue a yellow-level high-temperature alert on Wednesday, saying that most of the country's southern areas and parts of its southwest will see temperatures above 35 degrees Celsius.

Among those regions, most of Chongqing Municipality, southern parts of the Sichuan Basin and southern Zhejiang Province will experience temperatures of 40 to 41 degrees Celsius.

The eastern Jiangxi Province and southeastern Fujian Province issued a orange high-temperature alert on Wednesday, indicating that the temperatures in most places of the two provinces will surpass 35 degrees Celsius.

China has a four-color heat warning system: red, orange, yellow and blue. Red is the most serious level.

The NMC recommends avoiding outdoor activities in the early afternoon, and outdoor workers are expected to protect themselves from the heat.

Enduring heat and scarce rain have caused drought in some areas of south China. A total of 26 counties have been hit by drought in the southwestern Chongqing Municipality, with 149,713 hectares of farmland affected and 613,000 people short of drinking water.

Heavy rainfall-triggered floods have submerged parts of northwest China's Gansu Province since Monday, affecting a total of 172,000 people and 3,400 hectares of croplands, according to the provincial flood control and drought relief headquarters.

Strong rainstorms have drenched 15 counties in Gansu as of 1 p.m.Wednesday damaging 198 units of housing, 66 bridges and more than 100 kilometers of country roads.

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