Thursday, August 09, 2007

Olympic warmup

A collective breath was held here in Beijing yesterday evening as 8.08 pm on 8.8.2007 came round. One year to go until the Olympics and this year is the trial run. Note that in Chinese numerology the number 8 is deemed lucky.

One of the biggest questions running up to now has been whether the weather will cause problems. With Beijing's chaotic weather, a storm during the opening ceremony could spell disaster. Well, it seems that the government has that in hand. Some 30,000 people have been employed around the country, especially in the North, to control the weather, in particular by seeding rain.

The last few days has seen tremendous thunderstorms across Beijing, coming in at around 7 o'clock in the evening and lasting for 2 or 3 hours. The lightning has been more frequent than I've ever seen, with flashes and blasts echoing around Wudaokou once every 5 seconds or so. Some of the lightning has been spectacular, but most of the time I was in the office, not able to get up to the roof of any of the larger buildings in the area to get photographs.

The one time I did have to make a break for it I find myself calf deep in water as the drains struggled to keep up with the massive downpour. The times I was safely inside I watched others struggle through similar flooding.

Along with snow seen over Chengfu lu (very close to me) - which is a sign of silver iodide seeding - speculation has been rife that the chaotic weather have been artificially created. It may just be a coincidence, but yesterday was a perfect blue-skied day and at eight o'clock the blue sky was simply dappled with small clouds. Rumour is rife on the Chinese blogosphere that this is no coincidence but truly the government proving that they can indeed control the weather.

Today temperatures are up to around 37 and the sky remains blue. A million cars have been taken off Beijing's roads for the next 20 days, so it will be interesting to see if the fine weather and reduced pollution continues.

As I have mentioned before, this face saving exercise will not impress the citizens who, after the games have finished and people are looking ahead to London in 2012, will again be cloaked in the deathly smog which we all know so well.

Anyway, for now I will try and enjoy the blue sky and clearer air in the knowledge that it's not going to last long.

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