August 25, 2008

Chinese Rockets Stop Olympic Rains

Chinese authorities say they used rockets and chemicals to stop a thunderstorm from hitting the Olympics' final ceremonies.

Weather officials acknowledged using airplanes and several hundred rockets with rain dispersal materials Sunday afternoon after inclement weather coming from Mongolia was predicted, the Chinaofficial Xinhua news agency reported Monday.

"Moisture in the air was at a higher level than at the time before the opening ceremony and would more easily develop into convective clouds," said Zhang Qiang, spokesman for the Beijing Weather Modification Office. "We decided to use planes to cover a larger area, along with firing rain dispersal rockets from the ground."

Eight planes were sent between 2 p.m. and 8:50 p.m. from neighboring areas and the outskirts of Beijing to disperse chemicals. Additionally, officials fired 241 rocket shells in nine rounds to disperse the rain clouds.

It was at least the second such usage of weather alteration technology during the Olympics. The Chinese also set off more than 1,000 rain dispersal rockets on the evening of the opening ceremony.