Opening to be rain-free: the army will see to that

Trip Start Jan 30, 2007
Trip End Dec 31, 2011

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Flag of China  ,
Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Don't worry about taking an umbrella or rain jacket if you are lucky enough to be attending the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony.

If the skies aren't clearing on the 8th, China has at its disposal methods to seed the clouds to make it rain before the showtime starts.

And with a 50:50 chance of rain - based on previous 8 Augusts since records were held - who knows what will happen.

Olympic opening ceremony could be rain-free
By Zhu Zhe

The chance of rain during the opening ceremony is slimmer than reported earlier, but thunderstorms, high temperatures and muggy skies still pose a threat to the Beijing Olympics.

An analysis of weather data from 1975 to 2007 from the Haidian district observatory, the closest to the "Bird's Nest" where the opening ceremony will be held, shows the chance of rain spoiling the show is 41 percent, said Qiao Lin, chief forecaster of China Meteorological Administration (CMA) Tuesday.

An earlier analysis, based on the data from the entire city, suggested there was a 47-50 chance of rain on Aug 8.

Qiao held out further hope for a perfect opening day for the Games, saying that even if it rains, it will be light.

But inclement weather could still play spoilsport during the 17-day Games, said Chen Zhenlin, deputy director of CMA's forecasting service and disaster mitigation department.

"Thunderstorms, heavy rain, high temperatures, muggy skies and even hailstorms could be a problem," said Chen, who is also director of the Olympic Weather Service Center.

Beijing has made every possible effort to prevent bad weather from interrupting the Games. It even rescheduled it from July 25-Aug 10 to Aug 8-24 to avoid the rainy season.

But global warming has made extreme weather a more frequent and intensive affair, CMA spokesman Yu Xinwen said. This year has been especially bad for China, starting from the snowstorms in February to the recent heavy rain and floods and Beijing experiencing its wettest June in 15 years, Yu said.

Meteorological offices will intensify their efforts, especially during the Games, to forecast accurate weather on an hourly basis. And all forecasts will be both in Chinese and English.

Weather experts from former Olympic host countries, such as the US, Canada, Japan and Australia, will be in China in August to share their expertise and technology, Chen said.

Weather forecasting satellite Fengyun-3A (FY-3A), launched recently, is expected to begin functioning before the Games, and, together with FY-1D, FY-2C and FY-2D satellites, offer more precise weather data, Yu said.

Modifying the weather artificially during the Games is a possibility, he said. Planes and rockets could spread silver iodine and dry ice high into the atmosphere to target cumulonimbus clouds and induce rain before the clouds veer toward the Olympic venues.

But the technology can only prevent light rainfall, he said. It is powerless against thick, widely spread, huge mass of clouds.

And this story, also from China Daily:

China may artificially change weather for Olympics

Updated: 2008-07-15 20:27

BEIJING -- If bad weather threatens the August 8 opening of Beijing's Olympic Games then meteorologists may change the weather, according to a Chinese meteorology official.

Chen Zhenlin, a vice director with the China Meteorological Administration (CMA), made the statement Tuesday afternoon at a press conference held at the Beijing International Media Center.

Meteorological departments will consult with the Beijing municipal government whether or not to change the city's weather, should there be any unfavorable weather on August 8, Chen said.

He said meteorologists have made preparations for artificial weather modification since 2003, especially on reducing rainfall, but admitted that the technology still has limitations.

"Artificial weather modification could be useful when a drizzle occurs," he said. "But in case of a heavy rainfall, no one can help."

According to Qiao Lin, CMA's chief weather forecaster, official weather information for the opening day of the Beijing Olympics would not be available until August 1, a week before the Games.

CMA experts would come up with a preliminary forecast two weeks before the Games. The administration, however, would "probably not publish the results as too much uncertainty is involved," Qiao said.

He said city weather statistics from 1951 to 2007 show there is a 47 percent chance of drizzle on August 8.

But the possibility of heavy rain was far from likely, Qiao said, adding the analysis was by no means an official weather forecast.

The statistical analysis also indicates a high possibility for warm and moist weather in mid August, with about one rainfall every three days, he said.

Extreme high temperatures are not likely, the analysis said, although Chen Zhenlin still cited heat waves along with thunderstrokes, fog, strong wind, and hailstones as the extreme weather conditions which might hit Beijing during the Olympics.
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