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Will rain stop play at the Olympic Opening Ceremony?
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Will Beijing be hit by Olympic rainstorms? Are the Games organizers ready?

On the evening of July 4, with just 34 days to go before the Olympic Opening Ceremony, a sudden heavy rainstorm struck Beijing, challenging the city authorities' ability to cope. People began to worry about the weather during the Olympic Games, and especially the opening ceremony.

It's been a rainy year in Beijing. People know that from their own experience and statistics from the Beijing Meteorological Department confirm it. The first half of 2008 was the wettest since 1999. The question everyone is asking is - what will the weather be like for the Olympic opening ceremony?

The China Meteorological Administration once said August was chosen for the Games because there is little chance of rain at that time of year. But 30-years of historical data put the probability of rain on August 8 at about 47 percent, although there is only a 6 percent likelihood of a rainstorm.

To ensure a happy outcome, the Beijing Olympics Meteorological Service Center has some tricks up its sleeve. It plans to take "weather modification" measures, including artificial rain abatement. In essence this means making rain fall ahead of time, delaying rainfall, or diverting it to other places so as to ensure a fine day for the Olympic opening and closing ceremonies.

The Beijing Meteorological Department has been working on a weather modification scheme since 2002, and on August 7, 2007, carried out a small scale experiment in Yanqing, Changping and Haidian.

But the primary task of the Department is to accurately forecast the weather for August 8. As yet it's too early to say, since long-term forecasts only predict general trends, not exactly when it will rain.

(China.org.cn July 9, 2008)


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