From: Reuters
Published March 6, 2008 05:34 AM

China admits "high pressure" over weather

By Guo Shipeng

BEIJING (Reuters) - Beijing is seeking weather forecasters from home and abroad to provide hourly bulletins in three languages for every event of the Olympics in August, China's top meteorological official said on Thursday.

More than 70 of the country's best provincial weather forecasters would come to Beijing to help out, said Zheng Guoguang, head of the China Meteorological Administration.

"The whole nation's strength will be mustered," he told reporters on the sidelines of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, an advisory body to parliament currently meeting in the capital.

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Weather experts from previous Olympic hosts such as the United States and Australia would also come in August to share their expertise and technology, Zheng said.

"There will be forecasters at every venue to issue detailed weather services in Chinese, English and French, to be updated every hour," said Zheng, who has a PhD from the University of Toronto.

He said weather was the most challenging factor in Beijing's preparations for the Games.

"The pressure is very high," Xinhua news agency quoted Zheng as saying.

But the simmering heat and humidity that usually plague Beijing in the summer should have relented during the 16-day Games and history was on Beijing's side when it came to guaranteeing a dry opening ceremony on August 8, he said.

The odds of Beijing receiving more than 5 mm (0.2 inches) of rain on that day was only 10 percent, according to records from the past 50 years, Zheng said.

"There is a 47 percent chance of rain, but it may be extremely light and what we care about is (the weather) between 8 and 12 in the evening," Zheng said, referring to the four-hour period when the opening ceremony would be staged.

With no roof on the showpiece Bird's Nest stadium, the Beijing Meteorological Bureau has been charged with developing methods of preventing rain spoiling what promises to be a spectacular start to the Games.

While China had long used weather manipulation to increase rainfall in drought-hit areas, firing seeding agents into the clouds using anti-aircraft guns, it was not likely to be able to artificially eliminate big rainstorm systems, Zheng said.

"We are still at the mercy of the heavens. It is impossible to control or reform the nature," Zheng said.

"We can only adapt to and try to exert some limited influence on it. That is the scientific attitude."

(Editing by Nick Macfie)

(Take a look at the Countdown to Beijing blog at http://blogs.reuters.com/china)

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