China experimenting with rockets to disperse rain clouds

Updated: July 17, 2007, 10:52 AM ET
Associated Press

BEIJING -- The weathermen in Beijing are moving ahead with plans to fire rockets to disperse rain clouds, an experiment aimed at securing more sunshine during the 2008 Olympics.

Zheng Guoguang, head of China's Meteorological Administration, said practice drills were ready to begin, the state-run China Daily newspaper reported Tuesday.

Zheng said the drills will simulate what will take place when the Olympics begin on Aug. 8, 2008. He said summer provided the last chance for meteorologists to practice under similar weather conditions.

Chinese officials have said historical records show there's a 50 percent chance of rain for the opening ceremony -- and the same probability of rain during the closing ceremony.

Last month, a top-ranking weather official acknowledged that seeding clouds to produce rain -- and dispersing rainmaking clouds -- was immature technology.

"Dispersal is more difficult than rainfall enhancement," said Wang Yubin, assistant chief engineer with the Beijing Meteorological Bureau. "In rainfall dispersal, we are still in the experimental stage but we are continuing our efforts."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press