Saturday, May 14, 2011

Family and Victory Day!

What a glorious week with family in town!  My parents made a visit to Moscow to check out our digs and this beautiful city. Steve and I were thrilled to have them here. Their arrival was on May 9th - Victory Day! (The end of WWII was declared on May 8th but with the time difference - May 9th in Russia).  An incredible 25 million Russian soldiers died in WWII.  As a national holiday (similar to our July 4th), Moscow celebrates with a large scale military parade.

Do you remember the old images of tanks rolling through Red Square?  They still do today! We can see the Kremlin from our living room - and heard the soldiers yelling in unison - quite thrilling.    

These are the images Steve and I caught at a parade rehearsal:


Parade practice in Yaroslav (a small town we recently visited 4 hours away...)

This is a stirring video of the parade highlights (from 2008 - but the parade follows the same format today)...

Even more fascinating - the Russians were able to control the weather on parade day! You may have heard of cloud seeding - weather modification that helps control the amount of rain that falls from clouds, (typically used to create more rain over farmland, etc.).  In Russia - it’s used to drive rain away to insure it does not “rain on their parade”, (they’ve apparently done this for years).
Cloud seeding in action...

They use a machine (or plane) that spits silver iodide, dry ice or cement into the clouds, (brings new meaning to acid rain).   When the chemicals touch the cloud, a hole appears. It becomes bigger and bigger, and it either rains right there and then or, if the clouds aren't very dense, they disperse without any precipitation.  I guess we actually can mess with Mother Nature!

1. Silver iodide is fired into cloud using flares on planes or from the ground
2. Water droplets then attach to these particles
3. They fall as snow if surface temperatures are below or near freezing, or as raindrops at warmer temperatures
4. Heat released as the droplets freeze boosts updrafts, which pull more moist air into the cloud
Despite the use of the cloud-seeding technique, many scientists remain sceptical of its effectiveness
And so...on Victory rained....but then it cleared up to a bright sunshiny day!