By Mail Foreign Service
China overdoes cloud seeding to end drought… and blankets Beijing in snow
Chinese weather scientists were embarrassingly caught out by a sudden cold snap yesterday.
They had decided to ‘seed’ clouds with chemicals to produce rain and ease a drought in Beijing.
The operation went exactly as they had hoped – except that temperatures dropped sharply and the precipitation fell as snow.
It was helped by temperatures as low as -2C (29 Fahrenheit) and strong winds from the north, Xinhua news agency reported.
‘We won’t miss any opportunity of artificial precipitation since Beijing is suffering from the lingering drought,’ the report quoted Zhang Qiang, head of the Beijing Weather Modification Office, as saying at the end of last week.
Chinese meteorologists have for years been honing the technique of making rain by injecting special chemicals into clouds.
Nature gets a helping hand as snow blankets Beijing
When snow blanketed the Chinese capital, Beijing, over the weekend, residents expressed surprise as they admired the picturesque drifts along the streets and temple roofs.
Not only was it unusually early – the earliest snowfall since 1987 – but the amount of snow far exceeded most of the sparse sprinklings seen in recent years.
Now it has emerged that nature had a helping hand from local officials. Although the plummeting temperature was solely due to an advancing cold front, the deluge of snow owed much to the city’s weather modification office.
Its workers fired 186 doses of silver iodide into the air between 8pm on Saturday and 11.25am yesterday to prompt precipitation, causing an extra 16m cubic metres of snow to fall on the city.
Zhang Qiang, the deputy director of the weather modification office, told state media: “We won’t miss any opportunity of artificial precipitation since Beijing is suffering from the lingering drought.”
She told the Guardian: “In terms of the influence on crops, since the temperature will get warmer again soon it causes less harm than benefit to farming. Water melted from snow just meets the demands of winter irrigation in agriculture.”