Lighting the Way: Environment Canada’s Meteorological Service and the 2010 Olympic Torch Relay
A 2010 Olympic Torch Bearer holds the official Olympic Torch high. Photo: © VANOC/COVAN, 2009
From coast to coast, Environment Canada’s forecasters have a weather eye out for everything a Canadian winter offers – from mountain storms to prairie Chinooks, from Arctic blizzards to maritime fogs and marine gales.
Perhaps one of the most globally recognized aspects of Canada is our weather. And as our winter weather is so quintessentially Canadian, it is sure to be an unforgettable part of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Torch Relay – one that organizers, torchbearers and Canadians will remember for many years to come.
As the official provider of weather forecasting for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Torch Relay, Environment Canada (EC) is working to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for spectators and athletes alike. EC’s work providing weather forecasting services is part of our ongoing commitment to the success of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.
A uniquely Canadian approach
A torch bearer holds his torch over the Olympic Flame. Photo: © VANOC/COVAN, 2009
The torch relay is truly a magical part of every Olympic Games. On October 30th, the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Torch Relay departed from Victoria, BC and is now weaving its way across Canada with help from more than 12,000 torchbearers. It will use more than 100 types of transportation, including dogsleds, First Nations canoes, and cross-country skis, and will pass through more than 1000 communities. The relay will end in Vancouver, BC at the Olympic Flame Lighting Ceremony on February 12th; the opening day of 2010 Winter Games.
This is the longest torch relay an Olympic Games host country has ever attempted. The torch will travel more than 45,000 kilometres of Canadian landscape, with only 106 days to traverse it! To help plan and prepare for this journey, Environment Canada’s Meteorological Service is providing weather forecasting services for each official stop of the 2010 Olympic Torch Relay route.
Importance of weather forecasts to the relay
Weather forecaster Jen Hay works at the Storm Prediction Centre in Vancouver. Photo: Ross Klock © Environment Canada, 2009
In preparation for the torch relay, the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC) looked to Environment Canada to provide historical weather data for each of the relay locations. This historical data helped event organizers plan their torch relay celebration events, and helped to design the relay route - including modes of transportation.
Many portions of the route rely heavily on specific weather conditions. For example, the northern flight portions and Atlantic ferry voyages of the relay could be significantly delayed if a severe weather storm moves through the area. Dog sleds and snowmobile tracks require minimal snowfall, or else thaws could create dangerous icy conditions. Up-to-date weather forecasts however, will help organizers re-route torchbearers, and develop alternate plans to adapt to challenging weather conditions should they arise.
The 2010 Olympic Torch also requires special attention during the relay. The torch uses a special fuel which can gel in colder temperatures. If precautions are not taken, the Olympic flame could be snuffed out. Knowing what weather might be in store ahead of time helps the relay team predict and prepare for any complications.
As the torch relay progresses across Canada, up-to-date weather forecasts will be provided. This requires the collaborative forecasting efforts of all five Storm Prediction Centres across Canada.
Weather forecasting on a global stage
The contribution of Environment Canada’s Meteorological Service to weather prediction services for the Vancouver 2010 Torch Relay sets a precedent for future Olympic Games. No previous Olympic Torch Relay has travelled as far of a distance during the cold Canadian winter, or involved such a huge level of cooperation from each of the five Storm Prediction Centres in Canada.
Meteograms, a visual form of presenting weather forecasts, are also being introduced for the torch relay. This visual display of weather data presents all of the forecast data with one glance for the relay team, allowing them to plan for weather conditions accordingly.
A huge effort has been made on behalf of Environment Canada and its Meteorological Service to prepare for the 2010 Winter Games events. The Vancouver 2010 Olympic Torch Relay will surely be one to remember!
- Date Modified:
- Environment Canada’s Meteorological Service will provide weather forecasts for every relay location of the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Torch Relay
- The relay will cover more than 45,000 km of Canadian territory, passing through each province and territory using more than 100 modes of transportation before arriving in Vancouver to kick off the 2010 Winter Games on February 12, 2010
- All Storm Prediction Centres across Canada will be involved, taking responsibility for providing up-to-date weather information for their region
- Weather forecasts are crucial for the 2010 Olympic Torch Relay to allow for proper planning for community celebration events, to avoid severe weather delays, and to ensure a functioning torch given the torch’s technical needs