December 1, 2015
Trevor Kell has three screens spread out in front of him. On them are charts, maps and spreadsheets. It's easy to guess that he has an important job at the FAI World Air Games (WAG) Dubai 2015, perhaps THE most important.
Kell is the Event Forecaster. He's a meteorologist who's worked for the MET office in the UK, and for the last four years has been studying the weather here in the United Arab Emirates at the National Centre for Meteorology and Seismology (NCMS). For the next two weeks, he's part of a team who will use observations from weather stations around the Middle East to map the changing weather and forecast the conditions that competitors can expect here in Dubai.
"This is the best time of year to hold the FAI World Air Games," said Kell. "The summer is too hot, and you get dust storms. November is ideal, just ahead of the showers."
For the last two years November has seen a couple of showers, as troughs of low pressure roll down from Europe and the Mediterranean. Recent flooding in Qatar and Saudi was caused by one such trough, but Dubai on the Emirate peninsular escaped with just light showers.
"The bad news is there's another trough on the way," said Kell as he pours over his charts. But currently he only expects it to bring strong, northwesterly winds, or Shamal as they are called in Arabic. The net result, Kell predicts, is fine weather for the opening days of the competition and slightly stronger winds at the end of the week, reaching 12-15 knotts at the coast, and three knotts inland.
Kell said: "We're between hot air masses to the south, and cold air from the north. When they meet it's easy to predict what they'll do, but it can be hard to predict accurately exactly where and when they'll have an effect." That's why Kell and his colleagues keep a close eye on changing conditions, providing twice daily reports to the competition organisers so they can schedule events to coincide with the best circumstances.
"Once the Shamal passes we'll see a return to the more usual onshore-offshore breezes that are typical for this area," Kell said. This means that the warming land will draw air in from the sea during the day, with the wind direction reversing at night as temperatures cool. "At the coast the switch usually happens between 10am and midday, but further inland, at the Desert Dropzone, it happens between 1pm and 3pm," he added.
Check out the WAG website for updates from Kell and his team. https://www.wagdubai.ae/about_weather.php
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