Russians Control the Weather

Photo via flickr by ms4jah

The Russian government has used rain prevention methods since Soviet times, seeding clouds for major celebrations three times a year—Victory Day, City Day and, more recently, Russia Day.

Alexander Akimenkov has seeded clouds over Moscow on important state holidays for many years. He says the Russians use two different methods to try to drive the rain away.

“Either there’s a special machine that spits out silver iodide, dry ice or cement into the clouds, or a hatch opens and a guy with a shovel seeds the clouds manually,” he explains.

“As soon as the chemicals touch the cloud, a hole appears. It becomes bigger and bigger, and it either rains right there and then or, if the clouds aren’t very dense, they disperse without any precipitation.”

There are also private companies that for some $6,000 per hour say they can guarantee sunshine on your wedding day—or for any other private party. Many ecologists agree that these techniques, also used in many other countries for irrigation purposes, do not pose much of a threat to the environment or people’s health, as the period of active influence on the clouds is very short.

But when Moscow’s mayor Yuri Luzhkov suggested the technique could shift the winter snow outside the capital—and therefore save more than $10m in snow-clearing costs—many felt the city authorities were going a bit too far. Even if the idea might appeal to Moscow drivers, tired of constant traffic jams—especially bad in snowy conditions—it has stirred concerns among local ecologists.

“Millions of tonnes of snow diverted from Moscow will create chaos in the areas where it is forced to fall and might even lead to the collapse of bridges and roofs,” said Alexei Yablokov, one of Russia’s leading environmentalists, who was ecological adviser to former President Boris Yeltsin. “Besides, a lack of snow in Moscow would cause many problems in the capital itself,” he said.

“Why do we need snow in Moscow? Snow on the ground helps the roots of trees to survive during severe frosts. If there’s no snow, lots of vegetation—trees, bushes—will die. Snow also cleans the atmosphere very effectively. If there’s nothing to clean the Moscow atmosphere, many people will die—there will be tens or even hundreds of additional deaths,” explains Mr Yablokov.

The idea didn’t come to the Moscow mayor from nowhere, it is based on facts. “In the early 1980s, back in the Soviet period, there was a special service to limit snowfall over Moscow. It stopped working during perestroika [Gorbachev's reforms], when money became scarce. Some eight to 10 planes had to find clouds with the most precipitation and spray them with crystallizing chemicals. Not all water vapor in the atmosphere turns to precipitation, and for the snow to fall, water vapor should concentrate on ice crystals first. So we were making snow fall before it reached Moscow and this work reduced the amount of snow in the capital by 20, 30 and sometimes 40%.”

Regardless of the Moscow authorities’ final decision on snow cloud seeding, Russia remains one of the few nations where weather control is more than using anti-hail cannons and battling droughts.

So if you want to visit Moscow and don’t fancy rain, go there on one of the three precipitation-free holidays.

And if you want to ensure your wedding day is dry—it might just be possible to make it happen.

via BBC

2 responses to “Russians Control the Weather”

  1. kris says:

    VERY naieve, not to say dangerous, to believe that the seeding of clouds does not initiate weather events that effect the larger scenario here on earth in unknown negative ways. One can read about such effects now everywhere on the internet. Colin Andrews, for one, is a researcher who has shown that tampering with clouds in one place can have disastrous effects elsewhere, let alone quite unexpected results in the very place the action is performed (recent case in point: weather tampering in Australia has played havoc with the continent, creating flood type conditions in dry areas,negating whatever good might have been achieved by causing a little rain to fall where it was needed). This is definately a one-sided article we have here, conveniently avoiding even a ‘nod’ to the environmental repurcussions that can come from ‘playing god’ in such a manner. It should be added here also that throwing cement, let alone chemicals of any and all kinds, into the earths atmosphere is a truly frightening act. Whatever is placed into the atmosphere RETURNS to earth again, as we are these days only too aware. The chemicals always reappear below, contaminating the precious water and coating vegetation in ‘invisible’ muck. Animals and humans breathe this stuff in, for heavens sake. Thus let us not glibly joke about ‘adjusting the weather’ for weddings and so forth. Are we truly such a self-involved and ignorant bunch here on earth that we would participate in the continued destruction of this beautiful planet for the sake of yet another ‘good time’ on the parade grounds? When will we see the error of our ways…

  2. Fredrick says:

    Indeed, as the writer above attests, to play God in such a manner is surely a fools’ game.

    Whether it be seeding of clouds for the prevention of rain, as the article above examines, or attempting to create rain over a certain area by similar actions (as the previous commentator covers), both are done with only a very limited understanding of the bigger picture environmental outcome.

    I sincerely doubt whether we know what we are doing up there, folks. From chemtrails to weather games, some nasty stuff is going on up there that we know nothing about. No one is asking us for our input any day soon, mark my words. That Americans and other nations are involved in similar questionnable activities you can be darn sure.

Leave a reply