Georgia on their minds: Olympic weather team pushes the limits of forecasting.Summer in the southeastern United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. can whip up unpleasant, even violent weather-the kind of conditions that organizers of the upcoming Olympic Games Olympic games, premier athletic meeting of ancient Greece, and, in modern times, series of international sports contests. The Olympics of Ancient Greece
Although records cannot verify games earlier than 776 B.C. in Atlanta would like to disqualify To deprive of eligibility or render unfit; to disable or incapacitate.
To be disqualified is to be stripped of legal capacity. A wife would be disqualified as a juror in her husband's trial for murder due to the nature of their relationship. from this month's competition. When tropical storm tropical storm
A cyclonic storm having winds ranging from approximately 48 to 121 kilometers (30 to 75 miles) per hour.
tropical storm Alberto swamped central Georgia in July 1994, for instance, 28 people lost their lives and flooding forced more than 30,000 residents from their homes.
Although the possibility of a repeat performance this summer is remote, other types of foul weather present hazards to athletes as well as spectators. Thunderstorms thunderstorms
a storm characterized by thunder and lightning caused by strong rising air currents; identified as agents of animal disease because of their involvement causing (1) spasmodic colic; (2) lightning strike; (3) injuries of cattle acquired in stampedes initiated by storms. with lightning top the list of concerns, along with the double scourge of severe heat and humidity, which can kill. To deal with these threats, the National Weather Service has developed a system it says provides more detailed-and more consistently accurate-forecasts than any other in the history of weather forecasting weather forecasting
Prediction of the weather through application of the principles of physics and meteorology. Weather forecasting predicts atmospheric phenomena and changes on the Earth's surface caused by atmospheric conditions (snow and ice cover, storm tides, floods, .
The cutting-edge system is at least 5 years ahead of what's available in any of the more than 50 regional weather offices today, says Lans P. Rothfusz, chief meteorologist at the Olympic Weather Support Office in Peachtree City, Ga. "We now have a very prototypical office for the future of the National Weather Service."
The Olympics' 29 competition sites, or venues, are scattered across numerous microclimates. Forecasters plan to rely on a two-tiered system two-tiered system Social medicine The existence of 2 levels of health benefits and care, depending on whether the Pt can afford to pay or not to anticipate the weather at each site. They can make a 48-hour forecast for the entire Southeast, then use local data to create customized forecasts that can be updated several times a day.
The Olympic meteorological me·te·or·ol·o·gy
The science that deals with the phenomena of the atmosphere, especially weather and weather conditions.
[French météorologie, from Greek team wields an unprecedented array of computer power. A Cray C90 Class 7 supercomputer in Eagan, Minn., digests data for the longer-term forecasts, while a very high speed computer called the IBM SP (IBM Scalable POWER) A family of massively parallel (MPP) computer systems from IBM based on its RS/6000 (pSeries) models that incorporate various POWER and PowerPC CPUs. First introduced in 1993, SP configurations support from two to 512 processors. 2 is on loan for local forecasts.
The jewel of the integrated system is Eta-10, the computing software designed to predict weather trends over the Southeast. To demonstrate Eta-10's superiority over present systems, Geoffrey J. Dimego Jr. of the National Centers for Environmental Prediction The United States National Centers for Environmental Prediction delivers national and global weather, water, climate and space weather guidance, forecasts, warnings and analyses to its Partners and External User Communities. in Camp Springs, Md., points out that the software used elsewhere has a resolution of about 48 kilometers, whereas Eta-10 has an effective resolution of 10 km.
Olympic organizers need timely forecasts for each venue to ensure the safety and comfort of competitors and viewers at the 271 events. The weather team plans to notify officials at each site if one of the following conditions threatens to reach a dangerous level: rain, hail, lightning, wind speed, low visibility, or heat and humidity.
These site-specific warnings are also tailored to each sport. For example, officials overseeing rain-sensitive sports like baseball, archery, and tennis need to receive notification if any rain is expected, whereas others must be told only if heavy precipitation is on the horizon. Forecasters intend to alert all sites if the combined effect of temperature and humidity tops a heat index of 100#161#F. Temperatures only slightly above normal for summertime Atlanta could make this last warning a daily occurrence.
In making their forecasts, the weather team plans to combine the broad-scale Eta-10 data with the much more detailed data from the Local Analysis and Prediction System, or LAPS. This model focuses on an area about the size of Georgia and has a resolution of just 2 km-a critical feature for detecting the development of localized thunderstorms. The IBM SP2 computer enables meteorologists Atmospheric scientists
Even with bigger computers and improved software, however, meteorologists cannot make accurate forecasts without a third ingredient: high-quality weather observations from enough points to support the high-resolution models. The team depends on an integrated network A network that supports both data and voice and/or different networking protocols. See converged network and new public network. of sensors spread out over land, sea, air, and even space. Traditional systems, such as surface weather stations, marine data buoys, and weather balloons, must work in tandem with orbiting satellites and advanced weather radar capable of peering inside thunderstorms.
The Olympics come around just once every 4 years, and for a host country it is a rare event. In response to the challenge of the 1996 Summer Games, U.S. meteorologists have developed the kinds of advances in forecasting methods usually seen only in wartime.
As impressive as the technology behind the Olympic weather support is, laurels or defeat will ultimately settle on a team of more than 40 professional meteorologists who have had only a limited amount of time to master the new equipment and software.
"It's an opportunity for us to climb out on the bleeding edge of technology," says Dimego.
Time will tell whether the forecasters triumph over the elements. Yet a tour of the Peachtree City facility convinced Brian Albrecht, chief meteorologist of Atlanta's NBC NBC
in full National Broadcasting Co.
Major U.S. commercial broadcasting company. It was formed in 1926 by RCA Corp., General Electric Co. (GE), and Westinghouse and was the first U.S. company to operate a broadcast network. affiliate, that the Olympic weather team is in prime shape for the games. "I'm sure it's the most advanced weather forecasting center anywhere in the world."
To get the latest Olympic weather data available during the games, contact: http://www.nws.noaa.gov/olympics/Olympics.html.