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The rocket's red glare scared away the rain?

August 9, 2008 |  3:26 pm

Workers prepare fireworks rocket launchers at the Bird's Nest in advance of Friday night's Beijing Games Opening Ceremony.

Fireworks weren't the only things rocketing into the air above and around the Bird's Nest during the Beijing Games' Opening Ceremony on Friday night.

Ticket To Beijing quickly lost count of how many individual fireworks were dispatched, but Beijing officials know exactly how many "rain dispersal rockets" were launched.

"We fired a total of 1,104 rain dispersal rockets from 21 sites in the city between 4:00 p.m. and 11:39 pm on Friday, which successfully intercepted a stretch of rain belt from moving towards the stadium," Guo Hu, head of the Beijing Municipal Meteorological Bureau told the China Daily newspaper.

Rain was in the Beijing forecast, Guo said, and humidity was heading past 90%: "Under such a weather condition, a small bubble in the rain cloud would have triggered rainfall."

Guo moved his rain delay machinery into high gear at 9:35, according to the newspaper, when the short-term forecast predicted rain within the hour. "The artificial rain dispersal efforts basically drove the rain away as of 10:42 pm, when the show had been going on for over two hours," the newspaper reported.

Maybe the Metropolitan Water District should see if Guo has any tricks up his sleeve to combat Southern California's ongoing drought.

-- Greg Johnson

Photo: Chinese police and officials prepare fireworks rocket launchers for the massive fireworks exhibition at the Bird's Nest in advance of Friday night's 2008 Beijing Games Opening Ceremony. Credit: Gero Breloar/EPA