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China may aritificially change unfavorable weather for Olympics
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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 Aug. 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.

Chen said that to meet the needs of the International Olympic Committee, Chinese meteorological departments will begin to provide weather forecasts for each of the 31 Olympic stadiums in Beijing three days before their sport events take place.

The weather forecasts will be updated every one to three hours within those 72 hours, and the latest report will be published via TV, telephone hotlines, and the Internet.

Weather conditions of Olympic venues in other Olympic cities outside Beijing will also be closely monitored, although Chen did not specify whether the frequency of the forecasts will meet up to the same standard as in Beijing.

(Xinhua News Agency July 16, 2008)

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