Beijing gets blanketed by layer of snow
Updated: 2011-02-11 07:42
By Cheng Yingqi (China Daily)
A city worker begins the long task of clearing away snow at a stadium in the Weigongcun area of Beijing on Thursday. YIN GANG / XINHUA
Tian Lin (left) and a friend frolic in front of the Forbidden City in central Beijing on Thursday, as the capital’s first snowfall this winter alleviated its worst drought in six decades. ZOU HONG / CHINA DAILY
After months of drought, many city residents welcome the precipitation
BEIJING - On Thursday morning, Li Renfang stepped out of the barbershop where she lives and works and found the city had been dusted with a layer of silver and white.
Instead of hurrying to clear away the snow from the front of her store, she took out her mobile phone and snapped a photo or two.
"What a perfect expanse of snow," she said. "I don't have the heart to remove it."
She was not alone in the capital in enjoying the dusting.
After 108 days without precipitation, a 60-year record, many people were eager to enjoy the experience.
On micro blogs at sina.com, people started getting excited about the snow on Wednesday at midnight.
By 4 pm on Thursday, there were more than 17.5 million entries connected to the snow.
"I've been waiting for the whole winter for the white fairy to finally give this present," wrote a netizen named Tingmeng Xinjia on his micro blog.
By Thursday lunchtime, some parts of the urban area of the capital had received up to 2 centimeters of snow, Beijing Times reported.
It was hardly a deluge and the snow that fell was partly because of cloud seeding efforts carried out by the municipal artificial weather intervention office, said its director, Zhang Qiang.
By 6 am on Thursday, 759 silver iodide loads had been used to increase the snowfall.
But, however it was caused, the late arrival of the snow brought joy to many in the capital, even if it did make the day a challenge for the transportation authorities.
Traffic control authorities estimated that vehicles were moving at less than 20 km/h during the morning rush hour on Thursday. Drivers got up to about 40 km/h on the highways.
The Beijing municipal commission of transport fired up contingency plans and set up an emergency headquarters to deal with any problems.
But generally speaking, traffic ran smoothly on major roads because many people avoided using their cars and took public transit. A large number who usually join the commute were also still with their families following Spring Festival.
Beijing Capital International Airport started contingency plans to clear away the snow at 5 am. The work was completed in three hours but the snowfall did cause 32 flights to be canceled and had delayed 61 for longer than 60 minutes by 1:30 pm on Thursday.
"Although the snow is letting up, its influence is likely to last until late at night because we cannot release all the delayed flights at the same time," Li Shengbo, an airport spokesman, said on Thursday.
Despite the difficulties in getting around, many people were happy to see it, especially Pang Xinghuo, deputy head of the Beijing Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
"The snowfall is timely help," Pang told Beijing News.
He said Beijing is starting the season when infectious respiratory ailments come to the fore because of the huge movements of people during Spring Festival. However, moist air caused by the snow will slow the rate of transmission.
(China Daily 02/11/2011 page3)
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