Remember that movie (was it X-Men? Or another comic-book movie?) where the villain is controlling the weather — sending horrific hurricanes and scary snow storms to a city that has attempted to defy his power?
It all sounds a bit science-fiction-y, but yesterday China ended a 3+ month drought with it’s very own seeded snowfall.
I haven’t yet written my laments about how incredibly dry this city is. I go to bed itching all over – in spite of the fact that I’ve practically bathed in body lotion.
It really was an amazing show. The night before everything you could feel the moisture in the air, then when the city woke up the next day there was a layer of 3-4 inches of snow, and steady flakes coming down, quite literally out of the blue.
This artificial snow fall (which was the first precipitation of any kind since the end of October) ended (or was part of?) the worst dry spell some parts of this region in China have seen in 60 years.
But Do Not Fear! China is working on perfecting their weather control capabilities! Zhang Qiang, head of the municipal artificial weather intervention office, (I want that title!) said his team has been seeding clouds with rockets containing the silver iodide material the last couple days, using (and get this!) Anti-Aircraft guns. I knew there was a peaceful use for those things. Just imagine what they could do with nuclear war heads!
You can see an official news article on the topic here. The article also notes that it was a controversy to use this step — last year the city was a veritable mess over the uncontrollable man-induced snowfall.
Beijing isn’t a city you want to get stuck with a lot of snow because there’s no infrastructure to deal with it (Think NYC in those blizzards). Last year in the governments attempt to stop the drought caused it to snow almost continuously for weeks (ask the locals about the account and they start shaking in their boots over the stress and confusion it brings back).
They don’t have snowplows here, so instead they get whole troops of men to go out on the highway with large boards, and by staggering them out across the lanes, they scoop up the snow with the boards and slowly clear the highways.
Thankfully, for the sake of the traffic, the roads were busy enough all evening to keep any significant snow from sticking to the roads.
As soon as I woke up I could see dozens of little men running around with brooms, or shovels or any improvised tool clearing snow from walkways, and later from any imaginably dangerous horizontal surface (I even saw men on the roofs of the buildings across from me, cleaning off what might cause a leak later).
Overall, the drought looks to be a bit of a bigger mess than the snow that had to be cleared yesterday afternoon. The winter wheat crop seems to be almost non-existent. If you are a betting man, I’d short grain, as it looks like China may be going out on the market to supplement it’s own desperately lacking supply.
See this article on the dire circumstances that we’re facing here.