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Top Weatherman: Weather Most Challenging at Olympics

The weather is the most challenging factor in Beijing's preparations for the Olympic Games, China's top weatherman Zheng Guoguang said on Thursday.

"The pressure is very high," said Zheng, a member of the 11th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

Zheng, head of China Meteorological Administration, said his organization had been working for six years to improve precision of forecasts before and during the Beijing Games, which opens on August 8 in Beijing's rainy season.

Though a mere 10-percent chance for rainfall on the opening day has been predicted, many worry that bad weather, particularly summer storm, heat wave and lightning strikes, could water down the high-profile opening ceremony.

The weather worries Jiang Xiaoyu, executive vice president of the event's organizing committee. "My biggest fear is rainstorm on August 8," he said.

Zheng said his organization would provide accurate forecasts three to five days in advance, and take necessary measures to prevent rainfalls -- including use of cannons, rockets and planes to blast threatening clouds out of Beijing's sky.

"We'll do whatever we can, but cannot commit anything impossible or go against the rule of science," he said, refuting media reports that said Beijing could control everything, including the weather.

Beijing, which is chronically short of water, is well practiced at blasting clouds to prompt a much-needed downpour but its rain prevention technologies are still at preliminary stage, he said.

"But the Games will certainly help enhance Beijing's weather forecasting capacity," he said, referring to seven state-of-the-art Doppler meteorological radars to be installed in and around Beijing, interconnected to monitor the weather condition once every six minutes.

China launched its first Olympic weather forecasting satellite, the FY-2D at the end of 2006 and is ready to launch another one in May. The satellites are expected to provide more precise and longer range forecasts.

(Xinhua News Agency March 7, 2008)

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