Weekend falls ease drought

Updated: 2011-02-28 08:33

By Chen Jia (China Daily)

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Weekend falls ease drought

Farmers in Taigu village in Yuncheng city, Shanxi province, irrigate a wheat field during a snowfall on Saturday. [Photo/Xinhua]

BEIJING - The recent widespread rain and snowfalls in northern China, which are expected to end on Monday night, have eased severe drought in some of China's major wheat-growing areas.

The rain, with precipitation between 2 to 9 millimeters in Gansu, Shaanxi, Shanxi, Hebei, Shandong, Henan, Jiangsu and Anhui provinces, started on Friday at noon.

It reached 10 to 21 mm in some parts of Shaanxi, Henan, Jiangsu and Anhui, according to the National Meteorological Center.

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The small or moderate snowfalls on Sunday were also expected to cover parts of Tibet, Inner Mongolia and Northeast China, while heavy snow was expected in the southwest of Xinjiang.

"The degree of drought in some areas will be reduced after this round of rain and snow," said Guo Anhong, a senior engineer at the center.

The Ministry of Agriculture and China Meteorological Administration on Friday dispatched three groups of experts to Henan, Shandong and Anhui to investigate the latest drought situation.

"The recent rain and snowfalls in Henan obviously relieved the drought," Li Maosong, an expert at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences and a member of the group sent to Henan, told China Daily on Sunday.

"The drought I see here is not as severe as I expected, and the winter wheat doesn't need too much water before entering its main growing season," he said.

Gao Junyi, a 66-year-old farmer in Gaohuang village, Huainan city of Anhui province, disagreed: "I haven't seen so severe a drought in my life," he said.

"Thanks to the government's anti-drought subsidies, I have been watering my wheat for the second time since the beginning of spring."

Snow has blanketed 107 of Shanxi's 109 counties and cities, forcing road authorities to close or conduct traffic-control operations on several expressways.

"The snowfall mainly affected traffic in Shanxi, Hebei and Shandong," Liao Wenzhou, a researcher with the Ministry of Transport, told China National Radio on Sunday.

Moderate snow fell in Beijing on Saturday morning, bringing some relief to the dry national capital.

The snow, with an average precipitation of 2.7 mm in the municipality and 1.9 mm in the downtown area, began at about 2 am on Saturday. Snow continued to fall over the weekend, resulting in the longest period of snowfalls in Beijing this winter, a spokesman with the city's weather bureau said.

Weekend falls ease drought

Precipitation in some suburbs reached 10.2 mm, the heaviest the city has seen this winter, he added.

This is the third snowfall Beijing has had this year, with the first falling on Feb 9, the latest first snow for the city in 60 years.

The moderate precipitation will help alleviate drought in Beijing, as the city had not seen any precipitation for 108 days before the first snow two weeks ago, said Guo Jinlan, the bureau's chief weatherman.

Snowfalls together with strong wind also helped dissipate the haze that had shrouded the city for four days and greatly improved air quality, according to the municipal bureau of environmental protection.

Heavy fog had enveloped Beijing early last week. With visibility at about 1 kilometer, the city's air pollution was measured as the most hazardous this year.

Nearly 400 city workers and more than 200 snowplows were dispatched on Saturday to clear snow from the streets to keep traffic flowing, said an official with the Beijing Environment Sanitation Engineering Group.

Vegetable prices rose by 1.7 percent from Friday at suburban Beijing's Xinfadi market, North China's largest agricultural produce distribution center, as snow had caused delivery delays. But the market's analyst said the price increase was still within "normal" range.



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