The region began to experience heavy snowfall due to cooling of the warm winds from the north, which were deposited majorly in the mountain areas close to the Yellow River basin (Chen, pp.184).
As the spring of 1931 approached, the weather started to change coupled with the high temperatures. The high temperatures led to the melting of the snow that flowed into the three major rivers causing a rise in water levels. At the same time heavy rains stroke Central China due to cyclones that increased from the normal two to about nine cyclones causing storm surges in the region. These storm surges increased further the rising water levels of the three rivers especially the Yellow River. For several centuries, farmers had built dikes along the river banks to prevent it from bursting. In turn, this caused accumulation of silt along the riverbed and hence reduced the porosity of the soil around the riverbed and further increased the rising water levels (Shiyang, pp.175).
The increasing water levels alongside the heavy rains overcame the dikes in Huayankou around Zhengzhou city in Henan province causing the river banks to burst leading to a massive flood of the central China plains. The drainage routes of the melting snow in the North, West and East Mountains were the three rivers that burst their banks. The water levels rose so high and by August, 1931 the capital city of China by then, Nanjing City was surrounded by an island of water of about a hundred thousand square kilometers. The two major rivers were also affected by the rising snow storms and heavy rains. Yangtze water levels rose to its worst between July and August due to high rainfall in this period, which was recorded to be around 24 inches of rain. On the other hand, Huai River burst its banks and led to an average rise in flood levels at an average of 5.6 ft above Shangai Bund. By