|Snow-covered vehicles park in a residential community in Beijing, capital of China, Feb. 10, 2011. First snow fell in Beijing Wednesday night and continued into Thursday morning. It was the latest first snow for the city in 60 years. Beijing has had no precipitation for 108 consecutive days this winter. (Xinhua/Chen Qisong)
BEIJING, Feb. 10 (Xinhua) -- Snow fell in Beijing Wednesday night and continued into Thursday morning, in the latest first winter snow in the city in 60 years.
Beijing has had no rain or snow for 108 consecutive days this winter.
Meteorologists said that from 8 p.m. Wednesday to 6 a.m. Thursday, precipitation in Beijing averaged 1 mm.
Beijing residents who stayed up late and saw the first flakes of snow left their postings on microblogs. "The world in pure white," said one. "It's the most beautiful landscape in winter."
Zhang Qiang, head of the municipal artificial weather intervention office, said the office had begun cloud seeding and was continuing efforts to increase the snowfall in the nine districts and counties of Miyun, Mentougou, Yanqing, Haidian, Pinggu, Changping, Shijingshan, Fangshan and Huairou.
By 6 a.m. Thursday, 759 silver iodide rods had been used to increase the snowfall.
Zhang estimated that the cloud seeding efforts would end around Thursday noon.
Meteorologists said the first snow would also end at noon. At midnight, the city would have cloudy weather, and Friday would be sunny.
"As the precipitation is small, it will have a limited effect on easing the drought," said Song Jisong, the municipal meteorological bureau's chief weather forecaster.
Sun said the capital's longest winter drought occurred in the winter of 1970/71, when there was no precipitation for 114 days. This winter drought was the second longest in 60 years.
Meteorologists said the snow would reduce risks of fire.
The snow slowed traffic. Traffic control authorities estimated vehicles were moving slower than 20 km per hour in the rush hour Thursday on more than 40 highways.
The authorities said an emergency headquarters had been set up. Expressways connecting Beijing with Chengde, Tianjin and Tibet will likely have sections closed for the time being.
By 9:30 a.m. Thursday, 520 sanitation workers had been working for almost 11 hours to clear major roads, including Chang'an Avenue and the second, third and fourth ring roads, in Beijing, with 350 snow removal and road cleaning vehicles.
A spokesperson for the Beijing Capital International Airport Co., Ltd. said that by 9:30 a.m. Thursday, runways at the airport were open as normal, and landings on schedule, but some take-offs slightly delayed.
At least 64 ice removal vehicles had been arranged to ensure services continued as scheduled.
Wednesday also saw snow and sleet in Gansu, Shaanxi, Shanxi, Henan and Anhui provinces and rain in the Yellow River and Huaihe River valleys, southwestern regions and the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River valley. Snow and rain will continue in those areas Thursday.