Warning Operations in Support of the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games

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During the summer of 1996, the National Weather Service (NWS) provided weather support for the Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia. This weather support effort presented many challenges, particularly in the area of providing short-term forecast (watch) and warning support. Topping the list of challenges was working with a customer with different weather information needs than the general public. The needs of the venue and competition management were much more detailed than the NWS traditionally is accustomed to and the thresholds for various phenomena were very low (e.g., warnings for the occurrence of any rain were issued rather than the more traditional NWS severe thunderstorm warning).

This paper discusses many of the challenges faced and met by the Olympic Weather Support Office (OWSO). Details are provided on the weather warning requirements of the Olympic venue and competition management, the watch/warning strategy utilized by the OWSO, and the resulting performance of the office. More than 1200 watches and warnings were issued during the period of Olympic weather support. These bulletins were for phenomena ranging from dew formation and low visibility to lightning and heavy rain. Several emerging technologies were employed for warning operations in the OWSO, including the Warning Decision Support System and the Watch/Warning/Advisory package. These hardware/software solutions appear to have made a positive impact on the performance of the office in meeting the challenges of this unique warning situation.

*National Severe Storms Laboratory, Norman, Oklahoma.

+National Weather Service Techniques Development Laboratory, Silver Spring, Maryland.

#General Sciences Corporation, Laurel, Maryland.

@National Weather Service Forecast Office, Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Corresponding author address: J. T. Johnson, Real Time Applications Prototyping and Idea Development, NSSL, 1313 Halley Circle, Norman, OK 73069. E-mail: johnson@nssl.noaa.gov

During the summer of 1996, the National Weather Service (NWS) provided weather support for the Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia. This weather support effort presented many challenges, particularly in the area of providing short-term forecast (watch) and warning support. Topping the list of challenges was working with a customer with different weather information needs than the general public. The needs of the venue and competition management were much more detailed than the NWS traditionally is accustomed to and the thresholds for various phenomena were very low (e.g., warnings for the occurrence of any rain were issued rather than the more traditional NWS severe thunderstorm warning).

This paper discusses many of the challenges faced and met by the Olympic Weather Support Office (OWSO). Details are provided on the weather warning requirements of the Olympic venue and competition management, the watch/warning strategy utilized by the OWSO, and the resulting performance of the office. More than 1200 watches and warnings were issued during the period of Olympic weather support. These bulletins were for phenomena ranging from dew formation and low visibility to lightning and heavy rain. Several emerging technologies were employed for warning operations in the OWSO, including the Warning Decision Support System and the Watch/Warning/Advisory package. These hardware/software solutions appear to have made a positive impact on the performance of the office in meeting the challenges of this unique warning situation.

*National Severe Storms Laboratory, Norman, Oklahoma.

+National Weather Service Techniques Development Laboratory, Silver Spring, Maryland.

#General Sciences Corporation, Laurel, Maryland.

@National Weather Service Forecast Office, Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Corresponding author address: J. T. Johnson, Real Time Applications Prototyping and Idea Development, NSSL, 1313 Halley Circle, Norman, OK 73069. E-mail: johnson@nssl.noaa.gov
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