Thunder, rain and typhoons predicted for Games

Weather forecasters on Sunday predicted thunder and rain in Beijing on the day of the Olympic opening ceremony and warned that typhoons could disrupt events in other host cities.

Organisers have repeatedly said rain is their biggest worry ahead of Friday’s opening ceremony, which will feature more than 10 000 performers and a massive fireworks display.

But top officials from the Beijing Meteorological Bureau confirmed that bad weather is certain for the August 8 event, although they hold out hope that the skies may clear for the evening ceremony.

“Before and immediately after August 8, we will not see persistent heavy rainfall,” said Wang Jianjie, deputy director of the bureau. “Specifically on the 8th, the weather in Beijing will be cloudy and overcast and we will see some rain showers and thundershowers.”

She said that forecasting technology is not accurate enough to predict exactly when rain will actually fall on any particular day or whether it will disrupt the evening opening ceremony.

“It is impossible to tell at what time the rain will fall on August 8, but we cannot exclude that there will be periodic rain then,” she told a press conference on Sunday, a day of brilliant blue skies.

Meanwhile, officials said that they do not hold out much hope that China’s artificial weather-manipulation technology will help to improve the chances of a rain-free opening ceremony.

Zhang Qiang, head of the Beijing artificial weather-manipulation bureau, said that no decision has been made on whether it will use cloud-seeding technology in an effort to prevent rain on the opening day.

“Our technology is still at an experimental stage,” she said. “And for the moment we can only work with small clouds.
If the conditions are appropriate, we may try to put in some plans.”

Beijing has claimed limited success in the past using chemicals to seed clouds to prevent rain.

As for typhoons, Wang said that two or three are expected to blow in from the Pacific Ocean during the August 8 to 24 Games and that they will be tracked and monitored throughout the period.

The storms could hit Hong Kong, affecting the staging of the Olympic equestrian events there, and could also disrupt the parts of the Olympic football tournament being staged in coastal Shanghai.

Wang said that the port city of Qingdao in north-eastern China, where the Olympic sailing competition is being held, could also be affected.

However, she said any disruption that the typhoons could bring to the Olympic events will not be a major problem.

“Normally a typhoon can affect an area for one or two days,” she said. “It would not have a long-term effect but would only have an effect for a limited period.”—Sapa-AFP

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