8 is a lucky number for the Chinese. It’s why the Olympic Games will be kicking off at 8:08pm in Beijing on 08/08/08 (local time).
The weather is also playing a part with the good luck with a number of lucky 8’s in the forecast. The temperature is set to be 28 degrees at 8:08pm and Philip Duncan, head weather analyst at the Radio Network’s Weather Watch Centre, says the forecast is expected to be mostly sunny and sweltering. “With high humidity it will feel more like 34 degrees during the ceremony. Winds will be light and our weather partner weather.com is predicting the wind speed will be a very lucky 8 kilometres an hour from the humid south east”.
With humidity so high and winds so slow, Mr Duncan says there is the chance of some afternoon cloud build ups “But as luck would have it, there is an 80% chance of dry weather…there’s that lucky number again”.
It’s been widely reported that smog is a major problem for athletes competing in Beijing so the Weather Watch Centre took a deeper look into why smog is so bad in this year’s Olympic city. “Apart from the polluting factories there’s also a geographical reason for Beijing being so smoggy” says Philip Duncan. “Much like Christchurch, Beijing has mountains to one side. These mountains limit fronts that can zip through and “flush” the smog out to sea”.
The Taihang mountains lie to the north and west of Beijing and act as a shelter belt blocking wind from moving in from the north west (like the Southern Alps block our sou’westers from moving in to Christchurch) and blowing that pollution away out to sea.
Most smoggy cities in the world suffer from the same geographical features – surrounding mountains that effectively ‘shut off’ the valve for air movement. It’s also the reason why a lot of these places enjoy hot summers. Think Christchurch, Los Angeles, Mexico City even Alexandra in Central Otago.
Cities like Auckland, while much bigger than Alexandra, have the luxury of oceans on both sides. “It’s not exactly a luxury for the planet but for those living in the city the regular coastal winds blow the tonnes of pollution being belched into the atmosphere far out to sea. It’s not until there’s a big high pressure system over Auckland, and the wind has gone, that you can see it”.
The Weather Watch Centre wishes the very best of luck to all Kiwis competing in China (although we’re sure ‘luck’ won’t be needed!).