Weather Support for the XXVI Olympiad

Lans P. Rothfusz1, Melvin R. McLaughlin2, Stephen K. Rinard3, Tom Black4, Luis Cano4, Geoff DiMego4, JT Johnson5, Clark Safford6, John Snook7, Sondra Young4

1NWS Forecast Office, Tulsa, OK
2NWS Southern Region Headquarters, Ft. Worth, TX
3NWS Office, Lake Charles, LA
4National Centers for Environmental Prediction, Camp Springs, MD
5National Severe Storms Laboratory, Norman, OK
6NWS Forecast Office, Peachtree City, GA
7Forecast Systems Laboratory, Boulder, CO

1. Introduction

Since the resumption of the Olympic Games in 1896 (referred to as the Modern Olympic Games), the host country, operating either through its National Olympic Committee and/or the Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games has been given the responsibility for all the physical support associated with hosting the Games. Specifically, the Olympic Charter of the International Olympic Committee (IOC)1 states:

"The organization of the Olympic Games shall be entrusted by the IOC to the National Olympic Committee (NOC) of the country in which the chosen city is situated. Such NOC may, and if it does not possess legal personality shall, delegate the duties with which it has been entrusted to an Organizing Committee formed for the purpose which shall thereafter communicate directly with the IOC....

The object of the NOCs (and OCOGs), in accordance with the fundamental principles contained in these Rules, shall be to ensure the development and safeguarding of the Olympic Movement and sport. NOCs (and OCOGs) shall be the sole authorities responsible for the representation of their respective countries at the Olympic Games...NOCs (and OCOGs) must be autonomous and must resist all pressures of any kind whatsoever, whether of a political, religious or economic nature. In pursuing their objectives, NOCs (and OCOGs) may co-operate with private or government organizations. However, they must never associate themselves with any undertaking which would be in conflict with the principles of the Olympic Movement and with the Rules of the IOC."

The provision of meteorological support for the quadrennial celebration of the Olympic Games is a part of the physical support function expected of the host country in accordance with rules and regulations specified in the Olympic Charter of the International Olympic Committee.


1The IOC was created by the Congress of Paris of 23rd June 1894, which entrusted to the IOC the control and development of the modern Olympic Games. The IOC is a body corporate under international law having juridical status and perpetual succession.

Traditionally, the provision of such meteorological support has been a responsibility assigned to the national meteorological service of the host country. For example, The Australian Bureau of Meteorology provided support for the 1956 Games in Melbourne; the Japanese Meteorological Service provided support to the 1964 Games in Tokyo; the Meteorological Service of Mexico provided support for the 1968 Games in Mexico City; the Atmospheric Environment Service of Canada provided support to the 1976 Games in Montreal; the United States National Weather Service provided support to the 1984 Games in Los Angeles, and the Spanish Meteorological Service provided support to the 1992 Games in Barcelona.

The Atlanta Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games first contacted the Atlanta National Weather Service Office in 1989, when the city was preparing its bid for the 1996 Games. The Committee wanted climatological data incorporated in the bid package, and requested the data from the NWS forecast office in Atlanta.

In September 1990, the International Olympic Committee chose Atlanta, Georgia, as the host city for the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games. Thereafter, the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games (ACOG), formerly known as the Atlanta Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games, began planning for hosting the Games.

At the outset, the Committee recognized that the weather would be a major concern, and on July 14, 1992, the ACOG, a private, non-profit corporation, acting under the auspices and authorities of the International Olympic Committee and the United States Olympic Committee, requested the National Weather Service (NWS) provide meteorological support to help ensure the safe conduct of the 1996 Games. On November 30, 1992, the NWS agreed to provide the requested weather support, and the Secretary of Commerce reaffirmed the NWS weather support role for the Games on May 12, 1993.

In providing weather support for the 1996 Olympic Games, the United States National Weather Service was acting:

2. History

Chronology of Events2

1989
Numerous contacts between Atlanta's Civic Leaders and WSFO Atlanta regarding the City's bid for the '96 Summer Games.

1990
Carlos Garza, Peachtree City, GA, WSFO AM/MIC works with the University of Georgia and the Olympic Organizing Committee to place mesonetwork sensors at potential venue sites.

1991
April
The Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games (ACOG) makes initial contact with NWS AM for Georgia, regarding weather support for the Olympics.

1992
Jul 14
ACOG writes to Dr. Friday, Director NWS, formally requesting NWS to provide weather support for the 1996 Games.
Nov 30
Dr. Friday writes to Mr. Battle, ACOG, agreeing to provide weather support to the Games; announces the appointment of the Olympic Weather Support Project Coordinator and the formation of the Olympic Weather Support Committee (OWSC).

1993
Feb 23-24
OWSC holds organizing meeting in Atlanta; meets with ACOG representatives, and lays initial groundwork; establishes subcommittees.
Mar 11
Justification and proposed budget request for the Olympic support effort submitted to NWSH.
Apr 6
ACOG writes to Secretary of Commerce requesting support for NWS budget request.
April 23
Ira Brenner and Steve Rinard appointed Meteorologists-in-Charge of the two Olympic Weather Support Offices.
May 12
The Secretary of Commerce writes to ACOG committing the DOC and NWS to providing required weather support services for the 1996 Games.
Aug 11-12
OWSC meets in Fort Worth. Specific action items and milestones established.
Nov 22 Interest Announcement for Forecast Teams Distributed.

1994
Feb 8-9
OWSC meets in Boulder, CO, to consider hardware and software requirements to support warning and forecast operations.
Mar 22
NSSL representatives visit Fort Worth to brief the Olympic Weather Support Project Coordinator, Chair OWSC, MIC Olympic Weather Support Office (OWSO) and MIC Olympic Marine Weather Support Office (OMWSO) on possible NSSL participation in support effort, and demonstrate technology for accessing and using advanced techniques for utilizing WSR-88D data.
Apr 5
Lans Rothfusz selected as MIC of the OWSO when the former MIC departs for another assignment within the NWS.
Apr 7
OWSC meets with ACOG to discuss ACOG participation in obtaining technology support.
May 9-10
Chair, OWSC, MIC OWSO and MIC OMWSO visit NMC to evaluate National Center software and technology capabilities, and to discuss NMC offer of support for the Olympics effort.
Jun 7
Olympic Weather Support Project Coordinator briefs NWS Director Friday concerning proposals and plans for NWS weather support for the '96 Games. Dr. Friday gives approval to proceed.
Jun 21
NDBC deploys buoy off Wassaw Sound and begins data collection.
Jul 26
OSF agrees to provide support to NSSL for algorithm development in support of the Olympics.
Jul 28
Campbell Scientific units deployed at selected venue sites.
Aug 12
Procurement of additional Campbell Scientific units initiated.
Aug 15
Dr. Friday invites participation in Olympic weather support activities by the Canadian Atmospheric Environment Service and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.
Aug 23
NWS submits request for funding support from the Administrator's Distribution Fund.
Aug 29
Procurement of workstations for OWSO and OMWSO initiated.
Aug 30
Australian Bureau of Meteorology commits forecasters to Olympic support.
Sep 1
Members and alternates of the OWSO and OMWSO forecast teams identified.
Sep 27-28
OWSC meeting in D.C. Most OWSS components decided at this meeting.
Sep 28
NOAA Comptroller rejects ADF request.
Oct 4
Canadian AES commits forecasters to Olympic support.
Nov 7
SunSparc workstation and furniture for OWSO installed.
Nov 17 - 18
Olympics support technical meeting held in Peachtree City.
Nov 17
HP 755s arrived. HP 715s arrived in early December.

1995
Jan 8
JT Johnson reports for duty as SOO of OWSO.
Feb 17
First meeting with ACOG venue and competition managers.
Feb 22
Dr. James Baker, NOAA Under Secretary and Administrator, visits the OWSO.
Feb 28
Georgia Environmental Protection Division offers air quality data & assistance.
Mar 17
NOAA places a hold on all Olympics weather support preparations.
Apr 7
Dr. Baker meets with Dr. Friday and gives NWS clearance to resume Olympic support activities.
Apr 7
ACOG unveils weather story boards for Info'96.
Apr 25
NCEP & TDL begin discussing ways for ICWF to ingest model gridpoint data.
May 3
WDSS installed in OWSO.
May 22 - 25
Training video produced.
Jun 22
Chris Jacobson (meteorologist intern/programmer) begins working in OWSO.
Jun 22 - 25
Limited weather support given to rowing competition at Lake Lanier.
Jun 30
Karen McPherson (IBM) makes initial contact and asks if IBM can help.
Jul 6
Clark Safford discovers and fixes vexing bug in off-the-shelf fax software.
Jul 20
First forecaster team arrived for training.
Jul 29 - Aug 20
Weather support given to Atlanta Sports Festival '95.
Sep 5 - 9
Limited weather support given to diving competition at GA Tech.
Sep 22 - 24
Limited weather support given to rowing competition at Lake Lanier.
Sep 28 - Oct 1
Limited weather support given to white water kayaking competition at Ocoee.
Oct 9 - 15
Limited weather support given to cycling competition at Stone Mountain.
Nov 14 - 16
The November Test.
Dec 18
TDL makes breakthrough with color table conflict.
Dec 19
NCAR declines request to provide Auto-Nowcast software.

1996
Jan 4
Government shutdown stops work on Olympics preparation activities.
Jan 8
Preparation activities resume.
Jan 17 - 19
The January Test.
Jan 24
Media Day at the OWSO.
Jan 29 - Feb 1
AMS Conference in Atlanta. Papers presented. Booth staffed. Tours given.
Feb 12
IBM approves ACOG's purchase of Meteo 96 software for NWS.
Mar 12 - 14
The March Test.
Mar 31
Lightning strike damages some OWSO equipment.
Apr 7 - 14
Limited weather support given to archery competition at Stone Mountain.
Apr 9
IBM delivers RS/6000 SP computer to OWSO.
Apr 11
Briefing given at NWS Directors' Meeting. Tours of OWSO provided to attendees.
Apr 12 - 22
Limited weather support given to shooting competition at Wolf Creek.
Apr 15
The IBM RS/6000 SP comes on line.
Apr 18
John Chandioux Consultants and ACOG agree on terms for purchase of Meteo 96.
Apr 19
ACOG denies NWS request for Info'96 terminal at OWSO.
Apr 27
NCEP's model distribution system fails due to overload.
May 1
OWSS Hardware/Software Freeze.
May 3
NCEP model distribution functional again.
May 9 - 12
Limited weather support given to Paralympics track & field competition.
May 14 - 16
The May Test.
May 17-18
Limited weather support given to track & field competition at Olympic Stadium.
May 23
MOU between the NWS and IBM finalized.
Jun 27
OWSO and OMWSO forecasters arrive. Training and silent operations begin.
Jul 6
Olympic Villages opened. Official forecast operations begin.
Jul 19
Opening Ceremonies in Atlanta.
Jul 20
Opening Ceremonies in Savannah.
Aug 2
Closing Ceremonies in Savannah.
Aug 3
OMWSO operations cease; shutdown begins.
Aug 4
Closing Ceremonies in Atlanta.
Aug 5
OWSO forecasters leave.
Aug 6
PWSO (formerly the OWSO) forecasters arrive for Paralympics weather support training and Olympics draw-down support.
Aug 12 - 25
The Paralympic Games.
Aug 27
PWSO operations cease.
Aug 30
PWSO closes.


2Various acronyms are defined subsequently in the body of the report when they first appear.

3. Infrastructure

a. Background

Weather support for the 1996 Olympic Games began as early as 1989, well before the commitment to support the Games was formalized. In preparing their proposal to host the Games, the Atlanta Organizing Committee (AOC), later known as the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games (ACOG), approached the NWS Forecast Office (NWSFO) in Atlanta, Georgia, seeking climatological information. After Atlanta was awarded the right to host the Games, the Atlanta NWSFO assisted ACOG with a variety of weather support issues. For example, ACOG's concern about heat stress at the site of the equestrian event led to NWS collaboration with the University of Georgia in installing automated meteorological observing systems around the state to assist in obtaining climatological information needed for site selection.

b. The Olympic Weather Support Committee

Following the formal request for weather support services, the NOAA Assistant Administrator for Weather Services appointed the Director of the NWS's Southern Region as the Olympic Weather Support Project Coordinator. He also appointed an Olympic Weather Support Committee to assist the Project Coordinator. The Olympic Weather Support Committee (OWSC), which functioned under the oversight of the Project Coordinator, was responsible for working with the ACOG, other elements of NOAA, other Federal Agencies, elements of the World Meteorological Organization, the Canadian Atmospheric Environment Service, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, local government agencies, and the private sector in developing and implementing the plans for the required support.

The OWSC membership was drawn from various segments of the NOAA family, since it was determined early on that the Olympic Weather Support Project would need resources from other segments of NOAA if the NWS's goals were to be accomplished, e.g., fulfilling the mission statement, and achieving the Department's goal of showcasing U.S. advanced technology. The OWSC membership was as follows:

The Olympic Weather Support Committee
        Mac McLaughlin	        Chairman	Chief of Meteorological Services, NWS Southern Region, Fort Worth, Texas
	Christene Alex		Member		Office of Meteorology, NWS Headquarters, Silver Spring, Maryland
	Carl Bullock		Member		Forecast Systems Laboratory, OAR, Boulder, Colorado	
	Laura Cook		Member		Office of Meteorology, NWS Headquarters, Silver Spring, Maryland
	Mike Eilts		Member		National Severe Storms Laboratory, Norman, Oklahoma
	Carlos Garza, Jr.	Member		MIC, NWSFO Peachtree City, Georgia
	Roger Pappas		Member		WCM, NWSO Sacramento, California
	Stephen Rinard	        Member		MIC, Olympic Marine Weather Support Office, Wilmington Island, Georgia
 	Lans Rothfusz		Member		MIC, Olympic Weather Support Office, Peachtree City, Georgia
	Harvey Thurm		Member		Marine Services Program Manager, NWS Eastern Region, Bohemia, NY
	Sondra Young		Member		Lead Forecaster, NCEP, Camp Springs, Maryland

The Committee quickly determined the need to establish two offices to meet the meteorological support requirements, and subsequently developed plans to operate two Olympic Weather Support Offices; one (the OWSO) in the Atlanta area at the new combined weather and river forecast office at Peachtree City, GA, to support the majority of the venues, and the other (the OMWSO) in quarters to be provided by the Olympic Organizing Committee at the Olympic Compound on Wilmington Island, GA, to support the unique requirements of the yachting venue.

A Meteorologist-In-Charge was appointed for each of these two Olympic Weather Support Offices. These two individuals, who were also permanent members of the OWSC, were assigned the responsibility of overseeing the coordinating, planning, developing, and implementation of the day-to-day aspects of the NWS Olympic support activities.

c. Olympic Weather Support Offices

Staffing

The Olympic Weather Support Office
	Management and Development Team
	Lans P. Rothfusz		Meteorologist-In-Charge
	J.T. Johnson			SOO (on loan from NSSL)
	Clark Safford			Systems Administrator
	Clarence Hall			Systems Administrator
	Chris Jacobson			Programmer/Meteorologist

	Primary Forecasters
	Barker, Llyle			NWSO Goodland, KS
	Burr, Christopher		NHC, Miami, FL
	Churchill, Brad		        NWSFO Norman, OK
	Eckert, Michael		        NCEP, Camp Springs, MD
	Faught, Dianne			CWSU Indianapolis, IN
	Flatt, Paul			NWSO Tucson, AZ
	Gaudette, Mario		        Canada AES, St-Laurent, Quebec
	Lachapelle, Andre		Canada AES, Fredericton, New Brunswick
	McClung, Tim			NWSFO Los Angeles, CA
	Moore, Patrick			NWSO Tallahassee, FL
	Noffsinger, Jim		        NWSFO Peachtree City, GA
	Peters, Brian			NWSFO Birmingham, AL
	Ryan, Christopher		Australia BOM, Melbourne, Victoria
	Rydell, Nezette		        NWSFO San Antonio, TX
	Sabones, Mike			NWSFO Indianapolis, IN
	Sammler, William		NWSO Wakefield, VA
	Schmidt, Craig			NWSFO Portland, OR
	Vaillancourt, Pierre		Canada AES, St-Laurent, Quebec
	Young, Sondra			NCEP, Camp Springs, MD
	Wagner,  A. James		NMC, Camp Springs, MD (ad hoc member)

Paralympic Forecasters and Olympic Alternates
	Abeling, William		NWSFO Bismarck, ND
	Cooper, Steven		        SRH, Fort Worth, TX
	Frantz, Kent			NWSFO Peachtree City, GA
	Hoxsie, Kathy			CRH, Kansas City, MO (Olympics alternate only)
	Wilson, William		        NWSFO Louisville, KY (Paralympics only)
	Zaleski, Walt			NWSO Tampa Bay, FL

The Olympic Marine Weather Support Office
	Management and Development Team
	Steven K. Rinard		Meteorologist-In-Charge
	Mario Valverde	        	Systems Administrator
	Bruce Marshak			Assistant Systems Administrator

	Primary Forecasters
	Barnes, Wally			NHC, Miami, FL
	Neault, Gerard			AES, Vancouver, BC
	Niziol, Thomas		        NWSFO Buffalo, NY
	Powell, Mark			AOML, Miami, FL
	Spark, Elly			BOM, Sydney, New South Wales
	Spratt, Scott			NWSO Melbourne, FL
	Townsend, John		        NWSO Charleston, SC

4. Customers & Requirements

a. Background

The celebration of the modern Olympic Games is a major international event, drawing not only thousands of athletes, but heads of state, hundreds of thousands of spectators, and, via television, a global audience of millions. It is estimated that approximately two million people attended the 1996 Games. At any given time during the course of the 1996 events, anywhere from 250,000 to 500,000 people were exposed to the elements, either by being in attendance at outdoor Olympic venues, or by being en route to indoor facilities, housing, and other activities. At the yachting venue, the United States Coast Guard estimated that as many as 1000 small boats were plying the coastal waters off the southeast Georgia coast to gain vantage points from which the competition could be observed.

The 1996 Games were held in a part of the United States which can be very active, meteorologically, during the summer months. It followed then, that the weather would likely have a significant impact on the Games at one time or another. Considering the number of people who would be at risk if an inclement weather episode impacted the Games, it was clear that accurate and timely weather information was essential for the protection of the athletes and spectators, and for the safe conduct of the sporting events.

The customers of Olympic weather support information were varied. Competition managers, especially those in charge of events conducted out-of-doors, required different types of weather information. For example, officials in charge of the diving competition were concerned about wind speed (among other things). Those in charge of tennis were concerned about any precipitation which might occur, while cycling officials needed information about the atmospheric moisture content, since dew formation on the track caused it to become slippery and dangerous. All competition managers were concerned about lightning and other types of severe weather, since they were involved in making decisions concerning the postponement or cancellation of events. Another type of customer was the Venue Manager. These officials needed weather information in order to plan transportation, security, and vending operations at the venues; to activate sheltering plans for spectators and support staffing should severe weather threaten; to schedule additional medical personnel and availability of additional water supplies in the event excessive heat was forecast, etc. To assist the officials in interpreting and using the weather information, they were provided a customer training document (see Appendix A). This document gave examples of the type of weather warnings, forecasts, and summaries generated by the OWSOs, and provided information to assist customers in using that information. Copies of the document were supplied to all venue and competition managers.

Customers of weather information were not limited to ACOG Venue and Competition Managers. Those in charge of overall transportation needed weather information in order to adjust schedules if the weather resulted in cancellation or postponement of events, and transportation routes had to be altered in the event rain caused localized flooding of roadways or traffic congestion. Emergency Management officials needed weather information so that emergency action plans could be activated if needed. The Secret Service needed to plan for the movement and protection of heads of state and other domestic and international dignitaries. Medical authorities required weather information in order to plan for the provision of medical supplies and the scheduling of medical personnel in the event of weather emergencies. Police and fire departments needed the information to facilitate the scheduling and positioning of equipment and personnel. Coaches and athletes used weather information to plan strategies for competition; even to the detail of planning the type of food which was be consumed by the teams. Spectators used the information to plan their daily activities during the course of the Games.

To meet these requirements for essential weather services, the National Weather Service provided weather support for the Games in three areas;

The following mission statement was adopted to summarize the goal of the National Weather Service's Olympic Weather Support Project:

The National Weather Service dedicates the world's best meteorological science, skill, service, and technology to keep the 1996 Games weatherwise and weathersafe.

b. The Olympic Weather Support Office - Supported Venues

Through considerable interaction between the NWS and ACOG, the unique needs of the Olympic officials were determined. Most Olympic venues needed specific and non-standard information. Some examples of the non-standard information were:

* The banked bicycle track (velodrome) could not be used if the track had any moisture on it (condensation or precipitation); thus, Dew Formation Warnings were requested.
* The flat-water rowing and canoeing competitions were adversely affected by winds more than 10 mph; thus, Wind > 10 Warnings were requested.
* Equestrian competition courses were chosen based on the amount of cloud cover (more difficult courses for cloudier days). No warnings were devised for this need, but extra care was given to the 3-hourly cloud forecasts for the coming day.
* Wind direction changes > 90 degrees adversely affected track and field and flat-water rowing competitions; thus, Wind Direction Change Warnings were requested.
* Wind > 20 mph would delay diving competition; thus, Wind > 20 Warnings were requested.
* Any rain could delay baseball and softball competitions; thus Rain Warnings were requested.
* Occurrence of lightning would result in an evacuation of the field of play and/or the spectator areas; thus Lightning Warnings were requested.

*3Frequent and early interaction between the NWS and ACOG resulted in improved support. The interaction included assisting Olympic officials in the development of Weather Action Plans which linked actions their people should take based on the information the NWS provided.

The venues for the 1996 Olympic Games were not just located in metropolitan Atlanta. Many were in the surrounding areas of Atlanta, while others were well-removed from Atlanta. Figure 1 shows locations of the venues, which stretched from the Ocoee River in southern Tennessee to Columbus in the west to Athens in the east and to Savannah in the south. Thus, many venues had vastly different conditions while others had only subtle differences. All 36 venues were combined into ten "venue clusters" as depicted in Fig. 1. Most of the clusters contained only one or two venues while the "Olympic Ring" cluster contained the metropolitan venues.


*3 Sections highlighted in bold print and denoted with a star (*) document significant successes and/or positive aspects of the project. Sections highlighted in bold print and denoted with an X document either less successful aspects of the project or areas where a different course of action would have been preferable.
ACOG

The Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games was the primary customer of OWSO services and products. The officials, athletes, coaches required weather information for their safety and the smooth operations of the Games.

Each venue had a supporting Venue Communications Center (VCC). Some venues shared a VCC, but most had their own. The purpose of the VCC was to serve as a clearinghouse for all information about security, crowd control, emergency communications, medical needs, as well as weather. Watches, warnings and statements faxed to a VCC were to be communicated by the VCC to the appropriate Venue Manager(s), Competition Manager(s), security, law enforcement, medical and other appropriate individuals on-site. The VCCs supported by the OWSO are listed below.

Cluster #1: Olympic Ring
Accreditation Center
Airport Welcome Center
Alexander Memorial Coliseum
Aquatic Center
Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium
Centennial Olympic Park
Clark-Atlanta Univ.
Family Hotel
Georgia Dome
Georgia State Univ
Georgia World Congress Center
International Broadcast Center
Main Press Center
Marathon Course
Morehouse College
Morris Brown College
Olympic Stadium
Olympic Village
Omni Coliseum
Racewalk Course
Road Cycling Course

Cluster #2: Stone Mountain
Archery & Velodrome
Tennis Center

Cluster #3: Horse Park

Cluster #4: Wolf Creek

Cluster #5: Atlanta Beach

Cluster #6: Lake Lanier

Cluster #8: Columbus Golden Park

Cluster #9: U of G - Athens
UGA Coliseum
UGA Sanford Stadium

Cluster #10: Ocoee

High-level officials of ACOG resided in downtown Atlanta in a facility called The Center, a command center for all VCCs. Although The Center had access to Info'96 (see below), the OWSO faxed periodic weather summaries to this site. In addition, video-teleconferencing capability was established between the OWSO and The Center in the event that immediate weather briefings were needed.

The President of the International Olympic Committee and his staff resided in the Olympic Family Hotel (Marriott) in downtown Atlanta. Face-to-face weather briefings were originally to be given to ACOG officials each morning and they, in turn, were to brief Mr. Samaranch and his assistants. This did not pan out due to changes in ACOG procedures; consequently, weather briefings for ACOG were conducted by phone early each morning.

Info'96
Info'96 was the primary medium by which the media, athletes, trainers, Olympics officials and families of athletes received weather information. Developed by IBM, Info'96 was a network of personal computers distributed throughout the Olympic venues and served by an IBM AS/400. In addition to weather data, Info'96 provided athlete biographies, competition results, and transportation schedules. A dedicated line linked Info'96 to the Olympic Weather Support Office and the Olympic Marine Weather Support Office.

ACOG and the NWS collaborated extensively on the development of the weather database and user interface of Info'96. As a result, Info'96 was designed to accept NWS textual data and convert them into easily-understood graphics. For example, forecasts of three-hourly temperatures in matrix format were displayed by Info '96 as 24-hour time series graphics. Notably, the time series included observed temperatures and forecast temperatures.

* While such graphics did not directly compare observed temperatures with forecasts valid earlier than the present time, any large discontinuity between past and forecast temperature lines would have been noticed. This served as added incentive for forecasters to routinely monitor the quality of their forecasts.

X In most of the software applications, Info'96 suffered significantly in the early stages of the Games. The system was not ready for implementation as the Games began and customers were unable to access the much-advertised information (weather data included). System stability improved after the first five days of the Games, but by that time, Info'96 customers were reluctant to rely on it. As a result, the OWSO was forced to fax forecasts to the VCCs which overwhelmed the faxing software and hardware.

*Ironically, Info'96 was the medium best suited for the quantity and type of weather information being provided (e.g., when compared to NOAA Weather Radio and Family of Services). Once it began working properly, Info'96 customers could quickly access the information they wanted and in a highly-detailed format.


A request was made to the ACOG to place an Info'96 terminal at the OWSO. ACOG denied the request. Subsequently, volunteers were selected to quality control the OWSO and OMWSO products. The AM/MIC, NWSFO FFC, worked with the ACOG to locate and organize these volunteers.

*Due to the problems with Info'96 development, the QC volunteers proved crucial to ensuring quality weather information being disseminated via Info'96. These volunteers had meteorological backgrounds which helped them identify unrealistic or questionable data.

From the very outset of its development, Info'96 developers said that their system would not be used as an "emergency information" system. Thus, all warnings sent to Info'96 also were faxed to the appropriate VCC. This provided a level of redundancy important in short-fused warning situations.

Non-ACOG Groups
In addition to the customers listed above, several agencies were provided weather support from the OWSO. The support included periodic (and is some cases routine) faxes of textual data and on-demand weather briefings via telephone. The following paragraphs describe most of these customers.

The Joint Communications Center (JCC) was established in Atlanta's City Hall East. This facility housed representatives from such agencies as the Secret Service, FBI, Georgia Highway Patrol, Atlanta Police Department, National Guard, FEMA, Georgia Emergency Management Agency, and others. The purpose of the JCC was to serve as a clearinghouse for all Olympic support information to the law enforcement and Emergency Management agencies.

In addition to the JCC, there was a state-level law enforcement center called SOLEC. NWS personnel from the NWSFO, led by the NWSFO MIC, were on-site at the SOLEC for interaction with officials there. Also, the Olympic Intelligence Center for intelligence-related federal agencies was established at an undisclosed location.

The main military command center for the Olympics was located at Ft. McPherson in southwest Atlanta. Security and logistical support was provided to the Games by the military. Coordination of these activities for all venues and surrounding areas took place from the Joint Task Force (JTF).

X The JCC was originally billed as the sole clearinghouse for law enforcement and security agencies. In the months leading up to the Games, jurisdiction disputes led to the formation of multiple "coordination centers". This complicated the ability of the OWSO to get weather information communicated to an ever-expanding customer base.

* During Hurricane Bertha and after the Centennial Olympic Park bombing, NWS representatives stationed at SOLEC provided valuable weather support to the law enforcement community.

X Most law enforcement and military organizations relied upon Family of Service vendors for their weather information. Some vendors providing this service could not make the Olympic products available to specific users without impacting all users. Also, the volume of data issued by the OWSO became overwhelming to customers who could access the Olympics data.

The NOAA Air Resources Laboratory (ARL) collected Regional Atmospheric Modeling System (RAMS) data periodically from the OWSO, and ran dispersion models for evaluating the contaminant flow in the event of a nuclear or chemical incident.

The Defense Nuclear Agency made arrangements with the OWSO to acquire RAMS data from the ARL, as well as acquiring mesonet data directly from the OWSO periodically to model nuclear or chemical releases.

Finally, all textual data generated by the OWSO were made available to the media via standard Family of Service connections. The WMO headers for these data were announced via Public Information Statements. Fig. 2 summarizes the flow of data.

c. The Outlying Venues

Preliminary Olympic soccer competitions were held in locations outside Georgia, namely Birmingham, AL; Orlando and Miami, FL; and Washington, D.C. Weather support for these sites was provided by the NWS offices which normally support those locations (see below). ACOG referred to these venues as "satellite venues;" therefore, the offices supporting them were called "Satellite Olympic Weather Support Offices" (Satellite OWSOs).

	Venue Location				Support Office
	Legion Field, Birmingham, AL		NWSFO Birmingham
	Orange Bowl, Miami, FL			NWSFO Miami
	Florida Citrus Bowl, Orlando, FL	NWSO Melbourne
	RFK Stadium, Washington, D.C.		NWSFO Sterling

d. The Yachting Venue

The Yachting Venue was one of the most weather sensitive of the Olympic venues due to the broad range of weather- and oceanographic-related parameters affecting the venue. These parameters included wind, waves, thunderstorms, sea breeze, tropical cyclones, ocean currents, tides and visibility. Many of these phenomena were always present. While infrequent, some were a matter of venue and personnel safety, and could have resulted in discontinuation of venue operations. Finally, the lack of a sea breeze/wind would also terminate competitions.

Depending on the class of boat scheduled to race, the minimum wind speeds needed for competition were 6-8 knots with a maximum speed no greater than 20 knots. Waves began to adversely affect yachting competitions when wave heights reached 5 to 6 feet. While some classes of competition can operate in the more extreme wind and wave ranges, the support and committee boats would have problems maintaining the course if conditions became too rough.

To address these sensitive weather and oceanographic parameters, several key requirements were identified that were needed to meet the weather needs of the Yachting Venue. (1) The Olympic Marine Weather Support Office should be located within the Yachting Venue in order to maintain close liaison with Venue and Competition Managers. (2) A marine mesoscale observation network was needed to support the high resolution needs of the venue meso-forecasting program. (3) WSR-88D radar coverage over the venue was required for the warning program. (4) Part of the forecast team should operate within the offshore field-of-play observing actual conditions and working directly with the venue management team located during race times on Wassaw Sound.