ESRL Global Systems Division

FX-Net Weather Support for the 2002 Winter Olympic Games

With the recognition of the importance of accurate and timely weather forecasts for the upcoming Winter Olympic Games, government, university, and private sector meteorologists have banded together to provide improved forecast capabilities to support the Salt Lake City 2002 Winter Olympic Games. The NOAA Forecast Systems Laboratory (FSL) has developed a new weather forecast workstation that will be used at each of the outdoor venues where Olympic events will be held.

A team of meteorologists from the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City, the University of Utah Department of Meteorology, and a private sector forecasting group associated with KSL, the local NBC television affiliate, will provide the broad spectrum of forecasts and warnings needed to support the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. The official 2002 Olympic Weather Operations Center will be located at the NWS' Salt Lake City Weather Forecast Office, where meteorologists will prepare daily forecasts ensuring consistent information is made available to all decision makers. Media interviews will also be conducted from this location. The FX-Net development team of NOAA-FSL government staff and Colorado State University Center for Research in the Atmosphere (CIRA) staff looks forward to supporting the 2002 Olympic Winter Games.

The FX-Net Forecast System has been installed at the five outdoor Olympic venues at Snowbasin Ski Area, Deer Valley Resort, Park City Mountain Resort, Soldier Hollow, and Utah Olympic Park. All of the Alpine, Freestyle, Nordic, Ski Jumping, Snowboarding, and Bobsled/Luge/Skeleton events will benefit from the FX-Net Forecast Systems at those locations. In addition to FX-Net, 29 weather stations have been established at these five outdoor venues. A wealth of information on these weather stations is available at the University of Utah Olympic Site.

FX-Net is the official forecaster workstation for the outdoor venues at the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. Small forecast offices at each of five different outdoor venues have been equipped with FX-Net PC clients. The first real-time tests using the FX-Net system in Salt Lake City were conducted during the international pre-Olympic Winter Games, which started in November 2000 and were completed in April 2001.

FX-Net will help forecasters to provide useful meteorological information to event organizers, the athletes, and spectators alike. In this way, all can enhance their involvement in the Olympics, be it by anticipating conditions at their outdoor venue, in preparing accordingly for the competition, or simply by dressing more or less warmly to watch. Keeping the population aware of rapidly changing weather conditions is a challenge that falls to this team of weather forecasters.

The FX-Net project was established to develop a network-based meteorological workstation. FX-Net users send product requests via the Internet to the FX-Net server, which responds by sending products back to the user. The FX-Net client/user interface closely resembles the AWIPS workstation but with reduced resolution and complexity to allow for rapid Internet response.

In order to transfer a product over the Internet, the size of the product is obviously an important factor. FX-Net products can be categorized into four groups: satellite imagery, model imagery, model graphics, and radar imagery. Of these, satellite imagery is the most difficult to handle because of its large size. Model imagery is also difficult not only because of its size but also because of the very large number of products that are available. Both of these types of products are compressed through the use of a wavelet transform. It was determined that a small loss of fidelity would be tolerable in exchange for a high compression ratio. Model graphics are represented in a standard vector graphics format and radar imagery is encoded in a standard lossless image compression format. Like the Fourier transform, the wavelet transform relies on a particular set of basis functions. However, the set of basis functions that the wavelet transform uses is localized in both space and frequency, whereas a Fourier transform contains only frequency information. It is the ability of the wavelet transform to retain some spatial information, in addition to the frequency information, that allows it to achieve excellent compression of meteorological images.

Contact information
Name: Wayne Fischer
Tel: 303-497-6759
fischer@fsl.noaa.gov