Published: 2 November 2009
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 kept going for half the day, blanketing the capital’s streets and hitting air and road travel. It was the earliest snow in Beijing for ten years.
Winter wonderland: Holding an ambrella, a biker protects himself as he rides by after a snow storm hit Beijing
Timber! A scooter rider maneuvres to avoid snow-capped trees fallen on the road
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.
Christmas scene… in China: A snow-capped pavilion
Playtime: Children make the most of the snow
Chinese meteorologists have for years been honing the technique of making rain by injecting special chemicals into clouds.
Although the technique often gets results, a drought in the north of the country has continued for over a decade.
Besides the snow, which the Beijing Evening News said was the earliest to hit the capital in 10 years, the cold weather and strong winds also delayed air travel from Beijing’s Capital Airport.