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Artificial Rain Eases Drought in NW China
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On Tuesday evening sleet resulting from both natural and artificially-induced rainfall temporarily relieved a drought that has lasted for two months in northwest China's Shaanxi Province, said the local meteorological observatory on Wednesday.

Sleet fell from 8:00 PM Tuesday to 8:00 AM Wednesday across the whole province and 105 artificial rainfall operations were conducted, said the local meteorological observatory.

The record of rainfall was five to 13 mm in north Shaanxi, one to five mm in central parts of the province and three to 10 mm in the south.

The sleet helped slightly with irrigation but central Shaanxi, especially Weinan City, is still gripped by the drought which has left 300,000 people short of drinking water and affected thousands of hectares of cropland over the past two months, said local authorities.

The rainfall in January in central Shaanxi was between 50-90 percent below average and temperatures were one to two degrees centigrade higher, according to the Shaanxi Provincial Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters.

Only two to six mm of rain fell in January in Baoji City and no rainfall was reported in Weinan City, the headquarters said. Sporadic drizzle fell in Xianyang and Xi'an.

Water shortages have affected over 300,000 rural residents and 60,000 livestock in the three cities of Tongchuan, Xianyang and Weinan in central Shaanxi.

Xi'an, Weinan, Tongchuan and Baoji have identified 31 million yuan (US$3.9 million) for drought relief. The provincial water resources department will also allocate special funds to combat the water shortage.

Six artificial rainfall teams were sent to drought-affected cities in Shaanxi. Local water resources authorities organized 1,840 vehicles to carry drinking water to those affected. Water storage equipment was used to irrigate crops. 

The drought could worsen as February temperatures are expected to be higher than the same period in previous years and little rainfall is forecast, local meteorologists said.

The latest report from China's State Meteorological Bureau indicates that drought has extended to more areas in northeast, east, northwest and southwest China in the past month.

(Xinhua News Agency February 8, 2007)

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