Local meteorologist told his “narrow escape” story amid extreme heavy rain

Source: China Meteorological News Press Date: 2021/07/23

During the past days, extreme heavy rain plagued Henan province, in central China. Meteorological departments quickly responded and provided forecasting and monitoring services.

In the midst of this extreme event in Henan, a news titled “ a director of meteorological department rescued after washed away by flooding”. According to the exclusive interview of China Meteorological News Press, the protagonist, Mr. Zhao Jianbiao, Director of Gongyi meteorological department, Henan, said it was another story.

What’s the truth? What did he experience?

Encountering danger on the way back to work

At 9:00 a.m. on July 20, the rain gained intensity, but Zhao Jianbiao had to go out. He was going to take part in the municipal flood control deployment meeting, and report on information like real-time rain conditions, follow-up precipitation forecast, and short range nowcasting on the spot. These kinds of information are crucially important for all departments to timely adopt rainstorm disaster prevention and risk avoidance measures.

On the night of July 19, Zhao Jianbiao participated in the provincial flood control deployment meeting and briefed on this weather conditions.

On July 16 and 19, the department sent out important weather reports to relevant departments to raise their awareness about tackling this heavy rain. After the meeting, the rain was heavier. Zhao Jianbiao decided to return as soon as possible and braced for guiding the follow-up prediction and service work.

The way back was no stranger to Zhao Jianbiao, which was about 15 minute’s drive. On this day, Zhao Jianbiao headed north along Shihe road, with lower and lower terrain ahead.

As he recalled, “all of a sudden, the flow of water was mighty and the car was just flushed down the ditch. A forest in a more low-lying terrain was near the ditch. The water accumulation was deeper than the depth of water in the road. The water flow was quite turbulent. My car floated at that time and rushed down with the floodwater.”

Zhao Jianbiao swiftly reacted to help himself. He treaded and crushed the car window with force, timely opened the sunroof while the car had electricity, kicked in the car door afterwards, climbed to the car roof, and cried out for help.

Two hours later, his cry for help was finally heard by villagers.

Plunging into work after being rescued

His glasses was flushed away when he fled from the car. All he could remember was that a blurry figure approached and spotted him, calling out to more people for help.

Subsequently he learnt that about 20 or 30 villagers tangled one end of the rope to their arms and the other to the tree, approaching him little by little. After he grasped this rope, he was successfully pulled up.

He expressed his sincere gratitude to those villagers for risking their lives to come to his rescue in the interview. In the past several days, he was busy with providing forecasting services for tackling heavy rain. Only resting for 3 to 4 hours within two days, exposed to the rain for two hours, and clothed in drenched shirt, he quivered relentlessly after being rescued. He felt the human touch and deep warmth when he was presented with hot water, food and clean clothes in the villagers’ homes.

After the floodwater receded a little, Zhao Jianbiao just left. He said it was just skin trauma. After he returned home safe and sound, he sterilized the scratched on the hands and arms, and instantly plunged into the stressful work. He kept tabs on the weather conditions, actively joined emergency rescue and disaster relief, and maintained close contact with relevant departments.

On the night of July 19, Zhao Jianbiao and his staff to conduct meteorological services.

After over 12 years’ devotion to work, Zhao Jianbiao spoke of his extraordinart experience in a calm tone, “ as a meteorologist, our job aims to safeguarding the security of people.”

On the morning of July 20, staff from Gongyi meteorological department were maintaining automatic meteorological station.

Ensuring continuous data transimission

Like Zhao Jianbiao, from the morning of July 18, staff frm Gongyi meteorological department worked around the clock, continuously released early warning signals, and sent out nowcasting and rainfall information.

On the morning of July 21, after the rain condition dwindled, staff from Gongyi meteorological department figured out ways to reach the foot of the mountain and transfer disrupted data Credits: Gongyi meteorological department

Meteorological observing stations were built on the mountain. Under this situation, rainstorm had little influence on meteorological facilities. Currently, data acquisition was normal and rainfall can be uploaded to provincial meteorological service via telephone. While to make things worse, under the conditions of power and network outage, staff can only resort to 4G network card to transmit data. During this period, the downhill path was once again subjected to landslide and collapse. Staff were unable to go down the mountain and data transmission was disrupted.

To address this issue, on-duty staff braved the rain to search for signals, and reached meteorological departments in Zhongmu, Xingyang, and Xinzheng on and off, enlisted their help to release early warning information, and contact China Mobile Communications Group and colleagues down the hill to send out meteorological text messages instead.

Right now, power and telecommunication in Gongyi were also beset with problems. Meteorologists needed to climb down the mountain to transmit data at a fixed time, and harnessed mobile phone to compile forecasting service text messages.

As they remarked, “Rain or shine, we will always stick to our post and take our responsibility.” (July.23)

Reporter: Wu Tong, Zhou Aichun, Zhai Junjun

Editor: Liu Shuqiao

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