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China makes snowfall over Beijing

This week, Chinese ‘weather modifying engineers’ ended Beijing's longest drought since 38 years by covering the capital with artificial snow, reports Reshma Patil.

world Updated: Feb 20, 2009 00:19 IST
Reshma Patil

The Chinese can replicate designer handbags, iPhones…and make artificial snowfall over the Great Wall.

This week, Chinese ‘weather modifying engineers’ ended Beijing's longest drought since 38 years by covering the capital with artificial snow.

The clouds over Beijing obeyed China’s command to such an extent that 12 snowed-in highways around the capital had to be closed and flights delayed on Thursday.

Chinese weather engineers used 28 weather rocket launch bases around the city to seed the clouds with about 500 cigarette-sized silver iodide sticks to trigger the formation of ice crystals and snow.

China is an expert at modifying uncertain weather and maintains a sophisticated weather engineering set-up of 32,000 staff, several light aircraft and rockets to create rain, prevent rain, disperse pollution or make it snow.

The deputy director of the Beijing Weather Modification Command Centre, Zhang Qiang, told State media that artificial means were used since Tuesday to increase the volume of snow to combat the drought.

It had not rained over Beijing for 110 days since October 24. “The snowy weather has brought moisture to the soil. The drought has almost ended,” Guo Wenli, head of the climate center of the Beijing Meteorological Bureau told Xinhua news agency.

In 2007, Chinese scientists claimed they had created artificial snow over Tibet. Last August, during the Beijing Olympics, the weather modifiers were busy dispersing clouds to prevent rain over the roofless 91,000-seat stadium hosting the opening and closing ceremony.