Artificially Induced Snowfall in Beijing Disrupts Traffic, Flights

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Photo by kudumomo/FlckerBEIJING, Nov. 11 – Unusually early snowfall in Beijing that worsened traffic and grounded flights out of the city’s international airport yesterday was the second snowfall in eight days to be artificially induced says China Daily.

The first snowfall occurred on October 31 when authorities shot 186 doses of silver iodide into the sky resulting in more than 16 million tons of snow and flights out of Beijing Capital International Airport to be delayed.  Yesterday, the airport was shutdown for four hours because of the snowstorms while airlines were forced to cancel hundreds of flights. Authorities dispensed 6,000 tons of thawing agent to de-ice the roads and relieve traffic.

The National Meteorological Center (NMC) says the snowfall was induced to alleviate drought in the south and water shortage in the north.

“No one can tell how much weather manipulation will change the sky. Past experiments showed that it can bring about 10 percent to 20 percent of additional rain or snow,” Xiao Gang, professor from the Institute of Atmospheric Physics in the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told China Daily.

Xiao added: “We should not depend too much on artificial measures to get rain or snow, because there are too many uncertainties up in the sky.”

The unexpected snowstorm also affected road and air travel in North China with Taiyuan airport in Shanxi Province shutting down in the morning. NMC chief forecaster, He Lifu, said to expect heavy snow in the next three days to fall on Inner Mongolia, Shaanxi, Shanxi, Hebei and Shandong.