Something of an ambiguous, even provocative title for today’s article. Hello again and greetings from Shunyi where it is Thursday, May 6th. This is a short post around that stalwart of British conversation; The Weather. We bestowed it with CAPS in honour of its importance!
And no, that is not May in our head image.
Ok, being slightly facetious there, and taking a small jibe at The Bic’s British roots. But in all seriousness, the weather does actually play a huge part in we humans’ lives. And in many, many cases around the world, is responsible for the termination of them. Lives we mean.
In our recent post re China Daily, we mentioned China had a 3 day long May Day Holiday weekend. Many hundreds of thousands took the opportunity to travel out of town, safely, for the first time since 2019. This photo gallery from Caixin showcases that nicely
Amongst them many tens of thousands on Beijingers were set to escape The City ( apologies to London) and head out by fast train to a more relaxing destination. Or so they thought. Again, quoting form Caixin;
On Saturday — the first day of a national holiday that runs until May 5 — more than 30 high speed railway trains from Beijing to Wuhan, Xi’an, Changsha and further afield were delayed, and a further 16 cancelled.
So the pride and joy of China railroad, the envy of many other countries, was, despite all its hi tech paraphernalia and gizmo’s, brought to its knees by none of the than: the weather! High winds created a power failure in a critical electrical sub station. Punters were not amused!
All pain no train– another Caixin photo gallery captures the situation.
Speaking of wind, the last 2 or 3 weeks, whilst sunny and clearer than before have been plagued by seriously strong winds. Not just strong, but chilly to boot. However, yesterday, the winds moderated in strength, were also warmer. A sure sign that summer is almost apon us.
And so, an advanced warning. As the season matures and summer takes control, Beijing’s winds do tend to gather in strength. Become fickle, unpredictable. Which probably means the same. These can create nasty cross winds at Beijing’s airports. The end result is either a stomach churning, white knuckle, less than smooth landing, a wave around to try again or diversion to the other Beijing airport or Tianjin. But wait – there’s more!
Summer in Beijing also introduces the rainy season. More precisely, precluding precipitation, ’tis the season of electrical storms. Not great news for fliers. Those using aircraft we mean. For a few weeks during this time, Beijing Airports close down from time to time as storms blow in – and blow out. Can be a few times a day.
Ok, yes, modern aircraft can handle electrical storms. The close down is for personnel safety; baggage handlers, those restocking galleys and, especially refuelling. Several thousand litres of high octane jet fuel, a big mass of metal tin can and lightening bolts ain’t the best combo.
Ever stacked a series of dominoes on end? And then knocked one over? Yeah, the Domino Effect. That is roughly what happens when Beijing closes for even a relatively short time. It is not just those waiting to depart Beijing for other points who are delayed. But also those waiting to depart for Beijing. So if you are sitting in Shanghai, waiting for the all clear – you are lucky.
If in Changsha, a smaller city, not so lucky.
Why is that Bic?
Well, our guess is, based on several hundred hours cooling our heels in small airports, it is an hierarchy thing. Once the all clear is given, priority seems to be given to international flights, followed by the bigger cities and, eventually, if you are lucky, the small city you’re waiting in.
Of course, there is every likelihood your flight will have been cancelled!
However, let’s end this on a spark of good news. Since Beijing opened major airport #2 in South Beijing your chances of being stuck in a smaller city are reduced. As Beijing is such a massive, sprawling mega city, storms over Beijing Capital (northern) Airport tend to be localised, or regionalised. It can be raining here, yet our friends in the south west of Beijing are enjoying fine weather. And vice versa. In short, you have to be darned unlucky for both Beijing airports to be shut due to weather.
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