Weather and the 2018 Olympic Weather Games

    If you have paid attention to the Olympics this year, you have probably heard about the tough weather conditions (very low temperatures and gusty winds) facing athletes and spectators alike. In fact, the wind was so strong that several practices for events had to be postponed or canceled and proved to be a major factor during the events themselves. As tough as the weather forecasts are on the athletes and spectators, they are just as hard on the forecasters and team of scientists behind the scenes trying to make accurate predictions and measurements to assure the games go as smoothly as possible.

   This responsibility is so large that multiple organizations from 11 countries have come together and combined resources. This group is called ICE-POP, or the International Collaborative Experiments for PyeongChang 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. Members of ICE-Pop include NASA, Colorado State University, NCAR, NOAA, and the Korean Meteorological Society, among others. While most of these groups will be responsible for only equipment and research, the Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA) and the National Institute for Meteorological Science (NIMS) will focus on the public safety aspects of the game. These groups will utilize over 70 instruments including ground instruments, satellite data, and weather models which will help monitor snowfall, wind speeds, and temperatures. Using all of the data available snowfall forecasts will be made for each of the 16 different locations located close to the Olympic venues which will be used by officials to help make appropriate decisions for incoming weather. Some of the instruments used include the NIMS developed Very-short range Data Assimilation and Prediction System (VDAPS), AWS, wind profilers, buoy data, snodes, aircraft, scatwinds, and radar radial winds which will be assimilated by 3DVAR at a 3km resolution.

Sources: NASA and http://meetingorganizer.copernicus.org/EGU2016/EGU2016-5694-1.pdf

These systems will be similar to the ones installed in Vancouver (2010) and Sochi (2014) for their respective Olympic winter games. This does not mean that PyeongChang does not produce its own unique challenged as unlike the other sites, the Korean peninsula offers unique geography with warm ocean and sea waters in close proximity to the events as well as a very rough terrain.

Source: Newsweek

With the unique challenge of PyeongChang, meteorologists are assured to be kept busy by the 23rd Olympic games run through February 25th and the Paralympic Winter Games run from March 9th to March 18th.

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