Environment Canada's (EC) Meteorological Service of Canada (MSC) will be the official provider of weather information and forecasts for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. These services are designed, to assist in the safe and efficient delivery of the 2010 Winter Games by meeting the needs of the two main clients for this information: government agencies, responsible for public safety and security, and the Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC), for sporting and venues.
Weather services support for the winter Olympic Games consists of three phases: the pre-Olympic period planning that began in 2004 and ended in 2006, a program development and implementation phase running from 2006 through to 2009 and the 2010 games themselves.
Work in this phase was focused on the planning for and initial implementation of the basic infrastructure, which included the scoping of requirements for weather observing, personnel, training, communications, technology, research, resources and inter-agency relationships and interdependencies, and was aided considerably by consultations with the Salt Lake City 2002 and Torino 2006 weather service providers.
The weather services for the 2010 Winter Games are being financed by the Canadian Federal Government and VANOC. Estimates of resource requirements were based on expenses incurred in prior Olympics events, especially the Torino Games of 2006 and the Salt Lake City Games of 2002.
Observational data are the foundation of the forecast program. The installation of a network of new automatic weather stations began in late 2004. Scoping work was completed for advanced remote sensing equipment including Doppler weather radar and wind profilers. Other sensors, including microwave radiometers, visibility sensors and radiometers were included in the monitoring plan.
The recruitment of the forecast team was completed. A forecast team will be located at the Storm Prediction Centre in Vancouver and will provide overall guidance and support to the venue teams, and also meet the weather needs of essential federal services. Each outdoor venue (5) will also have a small team of dedicated forecasters to provide forecasts and advice to sporting and team officials, and facilities managers.
Early forecaster training is fundamental to success, and venue forecasting experience is essential. A program of forecaster on-the-job training (the practicum) began in the Whistler Alpine Venue in January 2006 and, further venue forecasting experiences are planned for each winter through 2009. To increase the level of specific scientific knowledge and training of forecasters destined to work at the Games, a mountain weather forecasting course was developed in cooperation with the Consortium on Meteorological Education and Training, (COMET). Three courses were held in Boulder, CO, and a final course was presented at Whistler in August 2008.
A key component of Phase II work was the development of a comprehensive weather service plan. This was done through consultations and close liaison with the VANOC, Sporting Federations, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) officials, the media, and Federal and Provincial agencies, to fully prepare to deliver on their needs and requirements.
Science and technology for the Games promises to be innovative. Specialized forecaster workstation and forecast production technology has been developed in conjunction with group responsible for Canada's new integrated forecaster workstation (NinJo), and with the Canadian Meteorological Centre's Scribe Development Team – the group responsible for semi-automated, model based forecast production. Planning is underway with the Numerical Weather Prediction research unit, RPN, to conduct research in NWP with the aim of producing applications of value to venue forecasting including the downscaling of some elements of high resolution NWP, particularly precipitation and wind, and the routine production of NWP at high temporal and spatial resolution. New forecast ensembles will be included in routine operational forecasting.
Work is underway to bring a THORPEX experiment to the Game's milieu during the pre-games period. In the late summer of 2008 through early winter of 2009, a THORPEX-sponsored western Pacific predictability experiment (T-PARC – Tropical Pacific Asia Regional Campaign) has been and will be conducted over the tropical eastern Pacific. It promises to bring new meteorological insights to forecasting the weather of the North American West coast, particularly with respect to the effect of tropical cyclone conversion and its modification of the downstream Rossby wave. This phenomenon has been responsible for a number of high-impact weather events along the North American west coast that, if they were to occur in 2010, could be severely disruptive to the Games. The winter phase of this experiment will concentrate on targeted observations and new data assimilation systems, and will be held during the test events period of February 2009.
In the interests of short term and nowcasting, a World Weather Research Program recognized Research Demonstration Project, involving participants from Canada, the US, Asia and Europe, has been designed and will be implemented through the winter of 2009 and beyond. It will include the production of operational short term nowcasting guidance for Olympic venue forecasters.
As forecast technology and infrastructure nears completion, a thorough test of the Weather Service from end-to-end will be undertaken to ensure its functionality and to modify it to adapt to user needs. These tests will be carried out during and after key pre-Olympic training events in 2009.
The final phase will be the Weather Service support during the Olympic Winter Games to be held on February 12-28 2010 and the Paralympics on March 12-21, and some decommissioning work thereafter. This phase will include a fully operational weather forecasting system, including dedicated venue forecasts and end-user targeted tailored products, real time weather forecasts and observed data delivery to proprietary 2010 , information systems and the provision of real-time information and professional weather advice to the VANOC, IOC, Sport and team officials directly at the Venues and within the Game's Main Operations Centre. In addition, personal consultations with forecasters at each venue and from the support cell in Vancouver will be available to Games' and federal officials.