15.3 The development of mountain weather forecasting expertise and the delivery of forecasts during the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics

Friday, 3 September 2010: 8:30 AM
Alpine Ballroom A (Resort at Squaw Creek)
Andrew Teakles, Meteorological Service of Canada, Vancouver, BC, Canada; and C. Dierking, C. Emond, and B. J. Snyder

The Callaghan Valley of British Columbia was selected as the venue for Nordic events for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. In the four years leading up to the Olympics a comprehensive training program was implemented to develop forecaster expertise where little previously existed.

The iterative process of acquiring knowledge and expertise in mountain weather forecasting and the application of this to microscale forecasts for the ski jump is described. During the process, forecasters developed conceptual models to understand and communicate meteorological processes taking place over this complex terrain. These models along with an increasing array of high resolution instruments and numerical model output provided essential tools for the forecaster during the Games.

Details are given on the preparation of forecasts for the ski jump events by the onsite venue meteorologist. These wind sensitive events posed a particular challenge to the forecaster. A detailed 24-hour forecast of wind conditions along the ski jump slope assessed the risk of strong crosswinds (safety) as well as upslope/downslope gust thresholds and variability of wind conditions (fairness). The meteorologist also provided real-time guidance to race officials regarding the strict wind thresholds established for running the event. Wind gusts exceeding these thresholds would lead to delays and, if persistent, the potential restart of event.

Feedback from race officials and evaluation of forecasts showed that the venue meteorologist successfully met the challenges associated with the extremely fine temporal and spatial scale nature of the weather at the ski jump venue.

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