China Pictorials 中国

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Beijing receives the earliest snowfall in 22 years

BEIJING — Government scientists in Beijing have been pilloried for inducing a recent heavy snow fall that jammed traffic, delayed air travel and left city residents shivering, state media said Wednesday.

Sunday's snowfall dropped more than 16 million tonnes of snow on the Chinese capital, blanketing a city where winter heating services have yet to be switched on and leading to howls of public protest, the China Daily reported.

The Weather Modification Office shot massive amounts of chemicals into clouds over the city the night before to provoke the snowfall, which it said was needed due to a lingering drought in the region, the paper said.

Heating in most Beijing buildings was due to be turned on November 15, but city officials were forced to move the timetable forward and were working Wednesday to bring buildings onstream ahead of schedule.

"This arbitrary government decision had disregarded the interests of the people... we should (have) considered the potential hazards of cloud seeding," said one commentary carried in the paper.

Sunday's snowfall, the earliest to hit the capital in 22 years, delayed 200 flights stranding thousands of passengers, led to traffic accidents and disrupted electrical services dozens of times, it added.

"(This) shows there is a lot of room to improve the national weather manipulation warning system for the public," the paper quoted Chen Zhenlin, spokesman of the China Meteorological Administration, as saying.

Chinese meteorologists have for years sought to make rain to reduce an ongoing drought.

But ahead of the massive celebrations marking the 60th anniversary of communist rule in China on October 1, cloud dispersal chemicals were used in the Beijing area to ward off unwanted rain clouds.

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