The 1996 Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia, received weather support from the National Weather Service (NWS). The mandate to provide this support gave the NWS an unprecedented opportunity to employ in an operational setting several tools and practices similar to those planned for the “modernized” era of the NWS. The project also provided a glimpse of technology and practices not planned for the NWS modernization, but that might be valuable in the future. The underlying purpose of the project was to protect the life and property of the two million spectators, athletes, volunteers, and officials visiting and/or participating in the games. While there is no way to accurately account for lives and property that were protected by the NWS support, the absence of weather-related deaths, significant injuries, and damaged property during the games despite an almost daily occurrence of thunderstorms, high temperatures, and/or rain indicates that the project was a success. In fact, popular perception held that weather had no effect on the games. The 2000+ weather bulletins issued during the 6-week support period suggest otherwise. The authors describe the many facets of this demanding and successful project, with special attention given to aspects related to operational forecasting. A postproject survey completed by the Olympics forecasters, feedback provided by weather support customers, and experiences of the management team provide the bases for project observations and recommendations for future operational forecasting activities.
*NWS Forecast Office, Tulsa, Oklahoma.
+NWS Southern Region Headquarters, Ft. Worth, Texas.
#NWS Office, Lake Charles, Louisiana.