16.5 Improving on numerical model outputs through the use of conceptual models, pattern recognition and local climatology at the Whistler Alpine venue during the 2010 Olympics

Friday, 3 September 2010: 12:00 AM
Alpine Ballroom A (Resort at Squaw Creek)
Ivan Dubé, Meteorological Service of Canada, EC, Montreal, QC, Canada

Venue forecasters were facing numerous tough challenges during the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. At the Whistler Alpine venue, some important ones involved: precipitation occurrence, precipitation type and amounts, visibility restrictions in precipitation or fog, temperature and winds. To respond to those constantly evolving challenges, forecasters had access to an impressive meteorological observation network as well as a large array of numerical model outputs of various resolutions, from the 100 km Ensemble Forecast System to the 1km Limited Area Model.

Through several case studies, the presentation will highlight different ways Whistler Alpine venue forecasters were able to improve on raw model output and add considerable value to the final product as well as communicate critical information to users for optimal decision-making. The selected examples will illustrate how forecasters managed to: discriminate numerical model snowfall false alarms, refine precipitation timing and amounts and pin-point exact fog location by relying on pattern recognition, conceptual models and local climatology.

This extraordinary experience led the author to believe model improvement does not necessarily mean less contribution from forecasters but rather a different kind of contribution. Lessons learned regarding the current and future role of operational meteorologists will briefly be discussed.

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