Main | Monday, October 19, 2009

Moscow Mayor Promises Snow-Free Winter

The mayor of Moscow has vowed to spend millions on cloud-seeding technology to ensure that this winter's storms drop the bulk of their snow outside of city limits.
For just a few million dollars, the mayor's office will hire the Russian Air Force to spray a fine chemical mist over the clouds before they reach the capital, forcing them to dump their snow outside the city. Authorities say this will be a boon for Moscow, which is typically covered with a blanket of snow from November to March. Road crews won't need to constantly clear the streets, and traffic - and quality of life - will undoubtedly improve. The idea came from Mayor Yury Luzhkov, who is no stranger to playing God. In 2002, he spearheaded a project to reverse the flow of the vast River Ob through Siberia to help irrigate the country's parched Central Asian neighbors. Although that idea hasn't exactly turned out as planned - scientists have said it's not feasible - this time, Luzhkov says, there's no way he can fail. Controlling the weather in Moscow is nothing new, he says. Ahead of the two main holidays celebrated in the city each year - Victory Day in May and City Day in September - the often cash-strapped air force is paid to make sure that it doesn't, well, rain on the parades. With a city budget of $40 billion a year (larger than New York City's budget), Moscow can easily afford the $2-3 million price tag to keep the skies blue as spectators watch the tanks and rocket launchers roll along Red Square. Now there's a new challenge for the air force: Moscow's notorious blizzards.
The cost of the cloud-seeding program will be about half what Moscow spends each winter to clear the streets of snow. Unsurprising, those living in Moscow's suburbs, where most of the snow would presumably be redirected, are not pleased. Also: Moscow's budget is more than NYC?

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