Beijing today experienced the “man made” snow generated by heavy cloud seeding by the Chinese Met authorities to end this year’s worst winter drought in 60 years.
The city and surrounding provinces which normally experiences snow from November to December every year had no rain or snow for 108 consecutive days this winter.
Zhang Qiang, head of the municipal artificial weather intervention office, told the state run Xinhua news agency that his office had begun cloud seeding firing silver iodide rockets into the sky.
The rockets were fired from anti-aircraft guns to stimulate precipitation to generate snow.
Hesitation for artificial precipitation this year
Chinese officials who prides themselves in perfecting the cloud seeding technology were hesitant to go for artificial precipitation this year as similar effort last year flooded the city snow for weeks virtually bringing the Chinese capital to a grinding halt.
Mr. Zhang said efforts to increase the snowfall in the nine districts and counties of Miyun, Mentougou, Yanqing, Haidian, Pinggu, Changping, Shijingshan, Fangshan and Huairou with cloud seeding was continuing.
Beijing residents who stayed up late and saw the first flakes of snow left their postings on microblogs.
“The world in pure white,” said one.
Mr. Zhang said that the cloud seeding efforts would stop around noon today which may also may end the snow.
“As the precipitation is small, it will have a limited effect on easing the drought,” said Song Jisong, the municipal meteorological bureau’s chief weather forecaster.
Beijing's longest winter drought in 1970/71
The capital’s longest winter drought occurred in the winter of 1970/71, when there was no precipitation for 114 days.
This winter drought was the second longest in 60 years.
Meanwhile, the Chinese Government has allocated USD 1.2 billion to battle the drought plaguing huge areas in the north, as wheat prices continued to soar high.
The drought has left a swathe of grain—producing regions reeling from a lack of any significant rainfall for three months.
The government will spend at least 6.7 billion yuan (USD 1.02 billion) to divert water to affected areas, construct emergency wells and irrigation facilities, and take other measures, the Cabinet meeting chaired by Premier Wen Jiabao said.
The move was included in a 10—measure package to spur grain production and tackle the persisting drought, which poses a grave threat to wheat production.
Crop-growers to get higher prices
The State Council also decided to pay crop—growers higher prices for their produce to offset damage to their yield in the drought—stricken areas.
The State Council warned the situation could worsen, saying rainfall across northern China for the foreseeable future would remain “persistently below normal levels and major rivers will continue to be generally dry“.
Some 2.57 million people and 2.79 million livestock are suffering from drinking water shortages, according to official figures.