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'Lesser Heat' opens with sizzle

THE summer's hottest weather still lies ahead as "Lesser Heat," one of the 24 solar terms in China, will hit today with an expected high temperature of 37 or 38 degrees Celsius, forecasters said yesterday. Yesterday's high temperature reached 37.1 degrees, the Shanghai Meteorological Bureau reported. The bureau issued an orange heat alert at noon, the middle alert on the three-level system. The heat caused a squeeze on the city's power supply, and some factories in suburban areas had limits placed on their usage in the morning, said the Shanghai Electric Power Co Ltd. Officials said the daily power consumption peaked at about 24,100 megawatts, creating a new high for the year. While some plants in Qingpu and Jiading districts had their power cut in the morning, "the period didn't last for long," said Gu Weicheng, an official with the company. "Their production was assumed right after the power consumption peak passed." Earlier, officials said they might have to limit power in parts of shopping malls if the thermometer exceeded 37 degrees, but no shopping area was affected yesterday. Meanwhile, the bureau reported that the maximum temperature is expected to fall to 32 to 33 degrees tomorrow, with the relatively cooler weather lasting about four days. The low temperatures will fall to 26 or 27 degrees. Frequent thunderstorms are expected to accompany the cooler weather, forecasters said. The coming of the solar term "Lesser Heat" signals that most areas of the Chinese mainland will soon move into the next season, with the heat peaking during that next solar term, "Greater Heat." That will begin on July 23 this year. Forecasters said the solar terms, which originated as advice to farmers in ancient China, don't necessarily predict exactly what the weather will be like. They pointed out that even after the "Greater Heat," plenty of hot weather may still be in store for Shanghai.

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