“Coaxed” Snowfall Does Little to Quench Drought

Global Times describes the means by which the snowfall was enticed, as well as its side effects:

Weather modification staff worked at 33 locations through the night. By 6 am Thursday, 759 silver iodide rods had been burned in portable furnaces placed high in the city’s surrounding mountains in order to increase chances of snowfall, according to the Weather Modification Office of the municipal Meteorological Bureau.

Though the snow did not help much in easing the drought, it slightly affected traffic. Traffic control authorities estimated vehicles were moving slower than 20 km per hour during the Thursday rush hour on more than 40 highways. Eighty-three flights were delayed by 11 am Thursday at the Beijing Capital International Airport.

Beijing added six more subway trains to three lines to help meet demand of the increased number of passengers. There are 8 percent more passengers taking buses than usual, while 26 bus lines in suburban and mountain areas were halted or temporarily detoured due to the snow, according to a Beijing Evening News report Thursday.

According to China Daily, 1,201 rockets and 1,867 shells were also used in the cloud seeding:

But the moderate precipitation was unlikely to end the drought, experts said.

Yang Guiming, chief forecaster of the National Meteorological Center, said that snow fell in parched grain-producing provinces of Anhui, Henan, Hebei, Shanxi, Shaanxi and parts of Shandong and Jiangsu. The southern parts of Henan and western and northern parts of Anhui saw the biggest volume ranging from 11 mm to 23 mm.

“But the volume, so far, is small so its drought-relief effect is limited,” Yang said.

However, the timing of the snowfall was important, according to a leading agricultural researcher.

“The snow came at the right time, especially in Jiangsu, Anhui and southern parts of Henan province, where winter wheat is undergoing a crucial growing period,” Lu Bu, a researcher on agricultural resources at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, told China Daily.

In the drought-hit regions of Hebei and Shandong provinces, the snow will help tackle plant disease and pests, he said.

See also: more coverage of the drought on CDT.

February 10, 2011 10:21 PM
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