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Light showers fall on Beijing after 110 parched days

[ 2009-02-13 11:33]     字号 [] [] []  
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Beijing received its first rain in 110 days - a 38-year record - yesterday and will get more late this month, meteorological authorities have said.

"The seasonal rain can help relieve the drought, clean the air and reduce the risk of forest fire to some extent," Guo Hu, head of the Beijing Meteorological Bureau (BMB), told a briefing yesterday.

Light rain began falling at 8 am yesterday morning when a warm, moist southwesterly airflow met a cold front, and the mild showers spread throughout the entire urban area in the afternoon, he said. By 4 pm yesterday, an average of 1 mm and a maximum of 3.9 mm of rain had fallen on the city, Guo said.

The bureau had forecast the rain would become sleet by early last night and end late in the night. It predicted today would be cloudy without rain.

"However, (the rainfall) cannot ultimately end the drought," Guo said.

Zhang Qiang, deputy director of the Beijing weather modification command center, said the weather department spent a long time planning several measures used to enhance the precipitation.

The government had - for the first time during a Beijing winter - performed cloud seeding by both plane and rocket. Previously, it had done so only from the ground, she said.

By 5 pm yesterday, 12 silver iodide rockets had been launched into the skies of Beijing's suburban Pinggu, Miyun and Changping districts. The local air force had also dispatched a transport plane to release 400 liters of liquid nitrogen in northern Beijing, an official statement said.

Twenty-one rocket launch bases in the city and 25 ground precipitation enhancement facilities in the mountains of eight districts were used to seed the clouds, it added.

Zhang said these actions could increase rainfall by 10 to 15 percent. The precipitation enhancement involved at least 200 people.

"It will not harm the environment, because only 0.5 g of silver iodide seeding was used for every sq km," she said.

It had not rained in the capital since October 24 last year. Since then, Beijing averaged 1.1 mm of precipitation, compared to the average of 19.6 mm during the same period over the past 30 years.

However, experts pointed out the difference in defining a drought by the amount of precipitation compared to doing so based on ground conditions.

BMB's chief weatherman Sun Jisong said Beijing's "real drought situation" was not serious, because the water content of the soil was relatively high at a depth of 20 cm beneath the surface.

The city received abundant precipitation during spring, summer and autumn of 2008, he added. In addition, the capital's 67,000 hectares of winter wheat fields had received good irrigation, and the current drought would not affect local agriculture, he said.

The Beijing flood control and drought relief office said last week that there were no drinking water shortages for people and livestock.

Guo expects Beijing will frequently receive warm moist airflows in the coming 20 days, making rainfall likely on February 17 or 18.

(英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Light showers fall on Beijing after 110 parched days

About the broadcaster:

Light showers fall on Beijing after 110 parched days

Nancy Matos is a foreign expert at China Daily Website. Born and raised in Vancouver, Canada, Nancy is a graduate of the Broadcast Journalism and Media program at the British Columbia Institute of Technology. Her journalism career in broadcast and print has taken her around the world from New York to Portugal and now Beijing. Nancy is happy to make the move to China and join the China Daily team.