(METEOROLOGYNEWS.COM) When one thinks of Moscow in the winter, visions of snow-covered domes and Russians cloaked in fur coats often come to mind. But if the mayor of Moscow has his way, this winter will be much different. It will be a winter without snow. And recent observations of the skies over Moscow indicate he may have already tested out his plan…with some eye-catching results.
The mayor of Moscow has pledged his full support to a plan to seed the clouds upwind from Moscow as a means of encouraging precipitation to fall from the clouds before they reach Moscow. It is his hope that the clouds that then blanket the city will not result in the usual heavy winter snowfalls Moscow is so well known for.
The Mayor is planning to spend several million dollars to pay the Russian Air Force to fly over the city and spray a fine mist of particulate matter into the clouds. The hope is that the particles that are sprayed will cause moisture to quickly condense on them, forming small cloud droplets or snowflakes much sooner than they would normally form. This “fast-forwarding” of the snow-making process would cause the clouds to create snow that would then fall to the ground before the clouds ever arrived in Moscow. The mayor contends such efforts would save the city millions in snow-removal costs and the quality of life improvement would be immeasurable.
Just last week, a mysterious cloud formation was spotted over Moscow. Referred to as a “halo cloud” or a “UFO cloud,” the rare formation likely had a much more innocuous title as a “hole punch cloud.” The cloud was filmed and the images quickly spread across the web, creating quite a buzz about its cause. As reported earlier by MeteorologyNews.com, the cloud was likely a simple hole punch cloud, whose origins are somewhat mysterious, although several theories support the notion that such clouds form when a cloud is comprised of ice crystals and super-cooled water droplets that are disturbed. The disturbance causes a quick transformation of the super-cooled droplets into ice which clings to existing ice particles and floats to the ground or sublimates. The quick dissipation of the water droplets creates a void, or hole.
It thus seems reasonable that the disturbance that caused last week’s hole punch cloud could reasonably be assumed to have been efforts by the Russian Air Force to test out its most recent cloud-seeding efforts in anticipation of the upcoming winter.Â The Russian military has offered no confirmation of such suspicion.
It was recently reported that Mayor Yury Luzhkov is no stranger to such grand efforts to manipulate nature. In 2007, the Russian government made a similar attempt at cloud seeding by dropping cement dust into clouds. But that attempt led to disastrous results:Â one bag of cement dust failed to dissipate in the cloud, instead falling to earth and crashing through the roof of a house. In 2002, he led a project to reverse the flow of the River Ob in Siberia in an effort to help irrigate the region’s agricultural zones. Scientists have responded that such efforts were impractical, although such failures have not stopped Luzhkov from trying his hand at further manipulations of mother nature.
Such cloud seeding efforts are not new. Going back to World War II, many countries have attempted to seed the clouds to either generate precipitation where it was needed or to prevent precipitation where it is unwanted. As recently as early 2008, it was rumored that the Chinese government was planning such weather modification efforts as a means of scouring the air of smog prior to the Olympic Games, as well as ensuring rain-free days for outdoor sporting events. It is unclear if such efforts were employed or if they were successful.