China experimenting with rockets to disperse rain clouds


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

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."