Plans afoot to take on Mother Nature, come rain or shine

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 July, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 July, 2008, 12:00am

Games organisers are preparing to battle the elements as the latest predictions suggest the evidence for and evidence against a rainy opening ceremony are equal.

Qiao Lin, chief forecaster at the China Meteorological Administration, warned of six types of negative weather scenarios during the August 8-24 Olympics.

Extreme heat and extraordinarily heavy downpours topped the list, with lightning, wind gusts and heavy fog also of concern, Mr Qiao said.

'We have established a sophisticated early warning system for Games-related weather forecasts, with the help of a new satellite launched in May,' he said.

The government had vowed that during the Olympics it could compile 72-hour forecasts for any competition venue and map weather fluctuations on a three-hourly basis.

Now, Mr Qiao said, the agency would take things even further.

It announced it would issue a forecast for the evening of August 8, the date of the opening ceremony, on August 1. 'Historical data shows there is a 41 per cent probability of rainfall in the area of the 'Bird's Nest' [the National Stadium],' he said.

Media reports had hyped plans by officials to seed clouds to prevent rainfall in the area at the time so the 3 1/2-hour bash could run smoothly, but another meteorological official played down that prospect. 'If there are clouds that produce light rain, artificial weather modification could bring results,' administration official Chen Zhenlin said. 'But there's not much we can do about heavy rainfall.'

A downpour wreaked havoc on the opening ceremony of the 2006 Doha Asian Games, bringing complaints from visiting athletes and officials, something Beijing is eager to avoid.