Current weather news on the 2008 Beijing Olympics

More than 2 million flowering plants specially bred for 2008 Beijing Olympics were presented to city residents as China marks a one-year countdown to the Games.

Forty-eight varieties of flowers featuring 132 colors, including maidenhair, marigold and petunias, which usually come into flower in May or October are displayed in full blossom in three areas:

Li Xinmin, head of the Huaxiang committee of the Communist Party of China, said about 60 million flowers were needed to decorate parts of the city during next year's Olympic Games.

"However, few flower types are able to cope with Beijing's heat and humidity," said Li, adding Huaxiang was charged with the task to research and breed flowers for the Games in 2005.

Botanists had experimented with biological means to introduce florescence to an oppressive summer, Li said.

Chrysanthemums, a symbol of dignity in Chinese culture, and Chinese roses are on a list of Olympic flowers thanks to their status as "flowers of the city", titles bestowed by Beijing residents in 1986. Also on the list are peony and calla.

"The blossoms are durable," said Zhao Ying, head of the flower breeding research team. "Olympic flowers can resist heat, strong sunlight and drought."

Landscape engineers would introduce more flower types from other parts of the country through crossbreeding to produce flowers that could blossom in the heat of August, experts said.  (Xinhua)

Weather forecasts for the Beijing Olympic Games will be performed using an IBM supercomputer that can provide hourly forecasts for each square kilometer, making it easier to plan for disruptions to specific events.

The large-scale forecasts made by China's national weather service are not detailed enough for next year's Olympic Games, so the Beijing Meteorological Bureau has bought an IBM System p575. It's the same type of computer used by the U.S. National Weather Service and about 35 other weather-forecasting sites around the world, says David Blaskovich, IBM's Deep Computing weather specialist, who is based in Monterey, Calif.

Detailed wind forecasts will make it easier to prepare for sailing events, while general forecasts of temperature, humidity and heat index could help maintain the safety and comfort of athletes and spectators. Beijing is also using the system for air quality predictions. 
(ABC News)