BEIJING, July 20 (Xinhua) -- Beijing's meteorological authority issued an orange alert, the second-highest level under China's four-tier warning system, on Wednesday as heavy rain hit Beijing, disrupting traffic and forcing the cancellation of flights.

From 1 a.m. to 2 p.m., the average precipitation in the capital reached 129.4 mm, with the maximum precipitation of 334 mm recorded in the suburban district of Fangshan, according to the Beijing Meteorological Bureau. The rain is expected to last until Wednesday night.

The capital issued a blue storm alert at 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday and raised it to yellow on Wednesday morning before raising it again in the early afternoon.

By 4 p.m., 226 flights had been canceled at Beijing International Airport due to the rain. Train services have also been disrupted.

The National Meteorological Center on Wednesday also maintained its orange alert for rainstorms across the country.

As of 2 p.m. on Wednesday, 13 waterlogged road sections in downtown Beijing had been temporarily closed to traffic. Beijing Drainage Group Co., the company contracted to manage the city's drains, said its workers were rushing to disperse the water.

A total of 164 bus routes had been affected by the storm as of 2:30 p.m., with services suspended or canceled on 14 of them, according to the Beijing Public Transportation Group.

The Beijing Municipal Flood Control Office issued a statement on Wednesday afternoon, urging people to limit their travel, take public transport, and stagger their commutes after work.

Besides Beijing, torrential rain is also forecast in parts of Tianjin, Hebei, Liaoning, Jilin, Inner Mongolia, Shandong, Henan, Jiangsu, Anhui, Hubei, Hunan and Yunnan from Wednesday afternoon to Thursday afternoon, with rainfall of up to 240 mm in some places.

The National Meteorological Center advised people living in the affected areas to prepare for possible floods, landslides and mud and rock flows, and those that live in mountainous areas to move to safe places.

Tianjin Municipality, which neighbors Beijing, was also battered by torrential rain on Wednesday.

As of 2:30 p.m., the cumulative precipitation in the downtown area of Tianjin reached 201.35 mm. Road traffic, air travel and public transport in Tianjin have been affected, according to the municipal government.

The government of northeast China's Liaoning Province on Wednesday ordered all schools and kindergartens to stay closed on Thursday due to the storms.

China has a four-tier color-coded system for severe weather, with red being the most serious, followed by orange, yellow and blue.

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