- Title: CHINA: Beijing sees blue skies but concern remains over Olympic weather
- Date: 3rd August 2008
- Summary: VARIOUS OF MAN ON BYCYCLE WITH A NATIONAL FLAG INSERTED
- Embargoed: 18th August 2008 13:00
- Location: China
- Country: China
- Topics: Sports
- Reuters ID: LVA4J6BS1LYGVMBV1TW3WMS8TTP7
- Story Text: With just six days to go until the Olympic Games, local authorities are still concerned about the weather despite Beijing experiencing uncommonly beautiful weather on Saturday (August 2), with crowds of tourists and locals alike amazed by a deep blue sky usually at least tinged with a grey hue.
Weather and air quality has become a constant source of concern for authorities and Games' organisers, who have to worry about two things in particular.
The health concerns of athletes participating in the Games and also bad weather ruining important events such as the Games' opening ceremony.
Beijing has introduced a raft of measures to improve air quality, from halving the number of cars on the road to temporarily closing down polluting factories in Beijing's industrial suburbs.
Wang Xiahong, a student from neighboring Tianjin municipality where some of the Olympic football games will be held, said there was a great improvement since her last visit to the Olympic capital.
"I can feel the difference with last time I came here. Beijing is getting more beautiful. The weather today is really good with clear skies, which has made me really happy," Wang Xiaohong said.
But weather in the Chinese capital in August is notoriously hot, humid often leading to heavy downpours, leaving authorities highly concerned that rain will ruin the opening ceremony next Friday (August 8).
Beijing's Meteorological Bureau, who are responsible for all forecasting during the Olympic period, are doing everything they can to successfully predict weather for the Games, putting out 4 broadcasts each day for each of 50 different Olympic venues and sites.
According to the bureau, Beijing's location, with mountains on three sides, makes weather prediction particularly difficult.
Following a packed media conference on Saturday, Wang Yingchun, spokeswoman for the Meteorological Bureau, said the opening ceremony was their top priority.
"One of the most important things is bad-weather prevention on the day of the opening and closing ceremonies, because we will have leaders from all over the world as well as many distinguished guests at that time in Beijing," Wang Yingchun said.
Wang said that the bureau would be able to make a prediction for the weather on the opening night within three days of the 8th itself, and is hopeful to avoid any heavy rains.
"The Climate analysis for the probability of rain on the day of the opening ceremony, I'm not talking about torrential rain or storms but rain in general, is 40%," Wang said.
The bureau also cautioned that no prediction could ever be 100 percent accurate.
In the event that a heavy summer storm did threaten to ruin all the hard work and money, Beijing has said they will go to great lengths, even sending up planes to seed clouds to ensure rain falls elsewhere.
So far meteorological officials have said that the technology, which was developed in the US and is often doubted by skeptics, has proved "satisfactory" at controlling light rains.
The method uses silver iodide to accelerate the collision and coalescence of water droplets in clouds, producing a downdraft and causing the development of clouds to decrease, causing less precipitation.
China has long used weather manipulation to increase rainfall in the parched north of the country, firing the seeding agents into the clouds using anti-aircraft guns.
Liu Liang, an IT worker from central Hunan province working in Beijing who brought his mother to see the Bird's Nest gleaming in the sun, was not convinced that rain could be totally prevented.
"What everyone wants is for the weather to be good so that we can have a happy opening ceremony. But weather is something that is beyond control. So we hope for good weather, but if it's bad, people should be able to stand it because there's nothing you can do about it," Liu said.
Beijing's new national stadium, the steel-latticed 'Bird's Nest', will host the lavish opening ceremony which will draw on some 10,000 performers and could net a global television audience of more than four billion people.
It will be the most expensive in Olympic history, with media speculating that as much as $100 million has been earmarked for the opening and closing ceremonies -- more than twice that was spent on the acclaimed 2004 Athens pageant.
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