Like I’ve said before the weather here has been pretty hellish. Shanghai has broken all sorts of weather records and Hangzhou has been named the hottest city in China right now. (And I get to live here. Yay.) According to Xinhua News Agency for 6 of the 7 past days we’ve had official temps of over 104 degrees (40 Celsius) with no end in sight for weeks. It’s been day after day of unrelenting hot, bright sun.
So two days ago when I heard booming thunder and saw a little sprinkle I got all excited. “Maybe we’ll have a big storm to cool things down,” I said to my student.
“Yeah,” said my student looking out the window. “But this is fake rain.”
“Umm, it looks pretty real me to.”
“The government made it.”
Yep, after making headlines during the 2008 Olympics for making sure it didn’t rain during the opening ceremony, China has been quietly building it’s weather manipulation program over the years. It now runs the world’s largest cloud seeding program. What they do is shoot rockets into the sky filled with silver iodide or dry ice. The particles are tossed up and down the atmosphere by air currents and change the normal clouds into rain making clouds. And if all goes according to plan, and it usually does, you end up with rain, though the where and when isn’t guaranteed.
People are dying, crops are withering and there is no rain forecasted for the near future. There are some definite economic ramifications as well as humanitarian. Over 10 people have died from heat related causes in Shanghai alone. So China thought it best to play god and make it rain.
The first day it just sprinkled. But yesterday it poured like crazy and we had one of the fiercest storms I’ve seen in awhile. Right when I had to walk to work.
Yep, it started at 6 and while I initially began walking I took refuge under an overhang when it got too heavy for me. I had to teach class and didn’t want my shoes to be totally soaked. It was raining so hard I figured it would blow by pretty quick, and the classroom was only 10 minutes away from where I was. But the minutes ticked by, and if anything, it got worse.
So I sucked it up and walked in the howling winds and torrential rains. I arrived to class 5 minutes late and totally soaked. I took my shoes and socks off, squeezed out some of the moisture and proceeded to teach class barefoot. (It was kinda fun.) But it worked. After class the temps were cooler and today was the first day below 100 degrees in a long, long time. (Though it is just temporary. While today was cloudy, 104 degrees are expected again in 2 days.)
So while the rain might be artificial, I assure you it feels very, very real.
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