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Watching the winds

9 July 2012

Art and science meet as two contrasting groups of people focus on the wind for the Olympic sailing events in Weymouth and Portland.

Met Office forecasters will be concentrating on their science to provide accurate and authoritative weather forecasts for the organisers and the public.

Thousands of professional and community artists, on the other hand, are undertaking projects across southwest England over the summer as part of Battle for the Winds, a unique theatrical project culminating in three days of spectacular performance at the sailing.

Wind gatherer

There will be two objectives for the Met Office forecasters in providing the best forecasts that science can provide. Firstly, guidance to help the organisers keep spectators and competitors safe and help visitors make the most of their trip to the sailing.

Secondly the team will also be providing very detailed forecasts for the sailing competition itself.

Leading the Met Office team is forecaster Jim Trice. He says: "As sailors ourselves, the Met Office weather forecasting team understand the importance of providing the most accurate weather and wind advice and information possible to assist the organisers in making this event as safe and as helpful for competitors and visitors. Portland Bill, Weymouth town and the cliffs and downs on the north and east side of Weymouth Bay will all have different effects on different wind directions under different weather patterns. Especially unique will be the effects on the sea breezes which often develop on a warm summer's day. No two days will have exactly the same winds. That's a challenge for the forecasters but will give a rich variety of winds for the racing."

The forecasters will use a unique combination of forecasting and sailing skills, world-leading weather science and state-of the art-computer forecasts to provide the organisers with the advice and information they need.

Battle for the Winds

Meanwhile, Battle for the Winds is already under way. The Wind Vessels have already begun their journey, making appearances at the Olympic Torch Relays. They will converge on Weymouth and Portland with the disabled and non-disabled performers of Breathe company for a grand finale on July 26-28 featuring fire torches, pyrotechnics and aerial displays. But who will win the Battle for the Winds?

Aeolus, said: "Without the help of the winds, the sailing simply can not take place. We are already facing a threat from Doldrum, who hates the winds and will do anything to stop them. The Met Office forecasts will be an invaluable aid in our fight to power the sailing and I for one shall have my beard glued to the screen for the next few months."

Fire torch

Weather forecasting will be very important throughout the Olympics and Paralympics but there will be three groups of people with an intense interest in one particular weather element this summer.

Met Office forecasters, the Wind Gatherers and the Olympic sailing organisers will be sharply focused on every change of wind in Weymouth and Portland.

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