FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Marilu Trainor
|NOAA News Releases 2002
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Weather will play a critical role at the Olympic Winter Games next month, and a first-ever partnership among government and private meteorologists is ready to provide accurate forecasts for athletes and spectators making the trek to Salt Lake City.
"Accurate, timely weather forecasts, and how these forecasts are made, will become part of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games history," said Vickie Nadolski, director of NOAA's National Weather Service Western Region, speaking at the 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Meteorological Society in Orlando, Fla.
This is the first time U.S. government and private meteorologists will share forecast responsibilities for the Olympics, as NOAA's National Weather Service, a part of the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, team with the Unviersity of Utah and 13 private meteorologists under contract to KSL-TV (Chan. 5) in Salt Lake City. The Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the XIX Olympic Winter Games announced the partnership comprising more than 50 people April 5, 2001.
The XIX Olympic Winter Games will run Feb. 8 - 24 and the VII Paralympic Winter Games, March 7 - 16 in Salt Lake City, the headquarters of NOAA's National Weather Service Western Region. The National Weather Service forecast office in Salt Lake City will serve as the official 2002 Olympic Winter Games' Weather Operations Center.
"We want everyone to be weather-wise and weather-safe' during the Games. The forecasters' job will be very important to ensure that people coming to Utah will be prepared for winter weather conditions that can change in a short period of time," Nadolski said.
NOAA's National Weather Service will provide the baseline meteorological information through routine forecast products and services designed to support public safety, emergency operations, traffic, security, aviation and avalanche control. The office also will issue a special Hazardous Weather Potential Outlook twice daily. Additionally, the office will provide historical climate data for venues and cities.
"Customers relying on our forecasts include those responsible for ground and air transportation, and we will support medical emergency responders," Nadolski said.
The public-private partnership is a collaboration of effort that makes best use of existing assets to serve the Games with the most accurate forecasting operations available. The core of the weather observations for the 2002 Winter Olympics is called MesoWest, which encompasses nearly 3,000 weather stations in the western U.S. from more than 70 participating organizations.
Data from Road Environmental Sensor Stations in Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming also contribute to the up-to-the-minute observations. The University of Utah will process the data. The Weather Support Group will display online graphical products every 15 minutes for the Games' officials, media and the public.
NOAA's Forecast Systems Laboratory, in Boulder, Colo., developed a PC-based weather display system called FX-Net. This provides access to current weather and forecast information at outdoor venues for use by KSL-TV forecasters. The communication network ensures all forecasters have access to the same weather information as they provide their critical forecasts for the Games.
Mark Eubank, head meteorologist at KSL-TV, will lead the 13 private meteorologists, who will provide official weather forecasts at the outdoor venues. They also will prepare weather forecasts for the opening and closing ceremonies, daily weather briefings for the organizing committees and the official media at the Main Media Center.
Faculty and students at the University of Utah Department of Meteorology will maintain 27 weather sensors at the five outdoor venue sites and other key locations throughout northern Utah. The university will run high resolution analysis models every hour and high resolution computer forecast models four times a day.
"The weather legacy of the Games will be the model partnership, which demonstrates government, private industry, and academia can work together to provide improved forecasting tools, and a better understanding of winter weather in complex terrain. The data gathered will support future mountain weather research. The special software developed to exchange information between the forecasters has already been used by NOAA's National Weather Service to support fire weather and all-hazards forecasting," Nadolski said.
NOAA's National Weather Service is the primary source of weather data, forecasts and warnings for the United States and its territories. NOAA's National Weather Service operates the most advanced weather and flood warning and forecast system in the world, helping to protect lives and property and enhance the national economy.
To learn more about NOAA's National Weather Service, please visit http://www.nws.noaa.gov.
For more information about the
Weather Support Group visit: http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/Saltlake.