Like an evil being, a thick, toxic, acidic, brown fog has enveloped this city since last Sunday. Each morning I wake up thinking it will have lifted, but each morning I am disappointed. What’s made it all the more maddening is that each evening I would check the local weather forecast and the forcast for the next day was always "warm and sunny." We were promised temps in the 60’s for the first time this spring. In China, part of the purpose of the weather forecast is to tell people how they can dress. Oh to be sure, since it’s still March EVERYONE (except the foreigners who don’t know any better) is still wearing at least one layer of longjohns. But the forecast can signal that maybe you can shed one of those layers and maybe wear a lighter coat.
By Thursday the string of mistaken forecasts had "triggered harsh words from Beijingers." The words were harsh enough and spread quickly enough to newspapers and internet chat rooms, that the Beijing Weather Bureau was forced to issue a public apology to Beijingers.
"The Beijing Weather Bureau apologized to the public on Thursday for making incorrect temperature forecasts for three consecutive days and vowed to improve their accuracy for the 2008 Olympics. The Beijing Meteorological Observatory has been widely criticized for giving erroneous temperature forecasts from Sunday to Tuesday. The temperature it forecast for Tuesday was a full 6.2 degrees Celsius higher than the actual temperature and 5 degress higher than on Sunday. The false forecasts have triggered harsh words from Beijingers and some are doubtful if the meteorological departments will be able to produce a reliable forecasting service during the Olympics."
Aha…the O word. As is often the case nowadays, it comes down to the Olympics. Foget about this week’s toxic fog. What about the Olympics??? But wait, there’s more!
"The timing of the apology is nothing short of embarrassment for Beijing meteorological officials. On Wednesday, chief weatherman Sun Jisong of the Beijing Meteorological Bureau said, ‘Normally, weather services only tell people the possibility of rainfall, rough estimates of wind scale and temperature. During the Olympics, we will forecast the exact tiem of rainfall and be accurate to within minutes,’ Sun said."
Come again? They will predict the timing of rain to within minutes? This I’ve got to see.
But there’s really nothing to worry about because last August one of the Olympics officials assured the world that there was only a 30% chance or rain during the Games next August.
For now, we wait for the fog to lift. Today I actually found myself wishing for a good old fashioned Beijing sandstorm!