China is preparing an arsenal of rockets and aircraft to protect the Olympics opening ceremony from rain, hoping to disperse clouds before they can drench dignitaries at the roofless “bird’s nest” stadium.
Officials believe there is a 47% probability of rain during the August 8 opening ceremony and a 6% chance of a heavy downpour and will try to drain humidity from clouds before they reach Beijing.
More than 100 staff at 21 stations surrounding the city will have 10 minutes’ notice to fire rockets or cannons containing silver iodide at approaching clouds in the hope of making them rain before they reach the stadium.
Three aircraft will also be on stand-by to drop catalysts to unleash rain from the clouds.
“We’ve worked with neighbouring provinces on a contingency plan for rainstorm and other weather risks during the ceremonies,” said Wang Yubin, the deputy chief of China’s meteorological service assigned to the Olympics.
The government has spent $500,000 to build up Beijing’s cloud seeding capacities over the last five years and authorities will conduct practice runs in June and July.
It typically uses pellets of silver iodide, which is highly insoluble in water and can concentrate moisture to cause rain.
Zhang Qiang, head of Beijing’s weather modification office, believed her staff can fend off drizzle, but could be powerless in the face of a heavy downpour. “I hope God will not send any storms to Beijing,” she said.
New tech that keeps Olympic torch burning
The tradition of the Olympic flame is rooted in Greek sporting heritage dating back thousands of years but new technology keeps the fire burning whatever the elements – or modern-day protester – can throw at it.
The Beijing torch burns on environmentally-friendly propane gas and its flame can last up to 15 minutes.
“(The gas) is composed of carbon and hydrogen. No material, except carbon dioxide and water remain after the burning, eliminating any risk of pollution,” says the Beijing Games organizing committee website. Torches in recent Games have switched to using gas cartridges that allow greater control of the flame’s size and colour and are safer for runners.
Via Times of India