Notes from the Field

Keeping an Eye on Weather During the Opening Ceremony

February 14th, 2018 by Ivan Arias

International Collaborative Experiments for Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (ICE-POP 2018) is a field campaign that is taking place during the 2018 Winter Olympics held at Pyeongchang, South Korea. It brings state of the art weather sensors from all over the world, and the Dual-frequency Dual-polarized Doppler radar (D3R) from NASA is among them. Around 30 agencies and organizations from 12 different countries are involved in this program including NASA, NOAA, Colorado State University, and the Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA) among others.

Some of the instruments including the D3R are located on the roof of the KMA, Daegwallyeong office as shown in the picture below.

Photo by Aaron Dabrowski.

On the the roof to the left is a scanning wind lidar from Canada. Next to it on the right is NASA’s D3R from United States, in the back is T-Rex UCLM from Spain, and in the far background of the picture a glimpse of Alpensia Olympic Park can be seen. With the main games happening just a few kilometers away, these instruments are useful for making better predictions of the weather.

Around 35,000 people and 16 state leaders attended the 2018 Winter Olympic Games Opening Ceremony. However, what most of them were not aware of is that if a snow storm occurred on the day of event, it would be relocated to an indoor venue since the Pyeongchang Stadium does not have a roof. It was a tough day for the people checking all the ICE-POP instruments and monitoring the weather forecast. The most stressful part was when the radar captured some snow formations 6 hours before the ceremony started. However, close monitoring of the weather dynamics allowed the meteorologists from KMA to predict that no significant snow would reach Pyeongchang, so there was no need to make changes for the ceremony. The below picture shows staff at the KMA Daegwallyeong office during the opening ceremony.

Photo by Ivan Arias.

The ICE-POP group didn’t take their eyes off the sensors the entire night, except to see the fireworks. The below picture shows a view of the opening ceremony fireworks from the KMA Daegwallyeong office.

Photo by Kwonil Kim.

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