Weather stations at 446 sites registered temperatures that were the same as, or greater than, the highest ever recorded for the month of May, deputy director of the National Climate Centre Gao Rong said at a press briefing on Friday.

Report informs via The Guardian that on Monday, the Shanghai Meteorology Bureau reported that the city had recorded a temperature of 36.1 degrees Celsius. The previous record for May was 35.7C, which occurred in 2018.

Over the next three days, most of southern China is expected to be hit by temperatures of more than 35C, with temperatures in some areas exceeding 40C, according to national forecasters on Friday.

Power grids are preparing to be put under strain as demand for airconditioning soars in mega-cities such as Shanghai.

Demand for electricity in southern manufacturing hubs, including Guangdong, has surged in recent days, with China Southern Power Grid, one of the country’s two grid operators, seeing peak power load exceeding 200m kilowatts – weeks earlier than normal and close to historical highs.

The sweltering heat comes amid a year of rising temperatures and erratic weather in China.

In February, the China Meteorological Administration warned that “extreme weather and climate events are still showing a high incidence and intensity [for the year]”.