|Photo taken on Aug. 7, 2013 shows the dried-up pond in Suixian County, central China's Hubei Province. A drought is continuing to linger in the province. (Xinhua/Xiao Yijiu)
WUHAN, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) -- Extremely hot weather is expected to hit central China's Hubei Province Thursday, local meteorological authorities said.
The meteorological observatory of the provincial capital Wuhan issued its first red alert this year for high temperatures on Wednesday.
It predicted that most parts of the province will see temperatures greater than 37 degrees Celsius, while the four cities of Huangshi, Xianning, Huanggang, and Ezhou will likely see temperatures higher than 40 degrees Celsius.
The Hubei Provincial Meteorological Bureau has launched an emergency response to the extreme weather.
Hot weather has been lingering in central and eastern China since July, causing drinking water shortages and affecting agricultural output.
China uses a three-tier color-coded warning system for high temperatures, with red representing the hottest weather, followed by orange and yellow.
In neighboring Jiangxi Province, the drought has affected drinking water supply for more than 1.52 million people. About 341,800 hectares of farmland have also suffered.
In the province's Fuzhou City, 105 small reservoirs and more than 2,000 hillside pools have dried up and most of rivers have no water.
The heat wave has swept 13 provincial-level areas across China, leaving about 5.95 million people and 1.72 million livestock lacking drinking water, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs on Monday.
The Chinese government has earmarked 1.65 billion yuan to fight the drought and more cash will be used to aid relief efforts, according to the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters.