Behind the scenes of the 2018 US Open, the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center (“NTC”) was dedicated to creating the optimal climate conditions for athletes and spectators with actionable, by-the-minute weather forecasts and insights.
All operators of major outdoor sporting competitions must manage weather, but the NTC handled particularly complex challenges in 2018 with a volatile season in an already weather sensitive location.
The US Open tournament, operations, and engineering teams make critical decisions based on any precipitation and extreme heat forecasts, seeking to avoid safety hazards, or needless disruptions to matches, delays, and cancellations.
Extreme Weather at the 2018 US Open
During the tournament, the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York City stood up to a wide range of weather challenges. These included the highest heat index in 30 years, an extreme heat wave, intermittent periods of light rain showers, and steady rain. Such events posed health and safety risks to athletes, spectators, and staff and caused several temporary roof closures throughout the tournament.
On the final Saturday of the tournament, the roof was closed prior to the Williams/Osaka Finals match. ClimaCell provided insights to NTC executives and the roof engineering team about light rain showers approaching and associated risks. The event decided to close the roof, and keep it closed. This ensured a women’s final that was not disrupted due to weather. Rain showers continued that night, and evolved into a steady rain for the Sunday final. Event organizers made the right call to keep the roof closed, to ensure a safe and dry men’s final.
The NTC introduced MicroWeather forecasting capabilities in order to use otherwise elusive weather data. The tournaments used ClimaCell’s by-the-minute weather forecasts to inform operational decisions such as:
- The introduction of the first-ever men’s extreme heat policy;
- The preparation of the Arthur Ashe Stadium’s retractable roof for specific rainy hours in order to prevent rain on the court while ensuring maximum play in outdoor conditions per tournament rules and optimizing conditions for athletes.
This resulted in a safer environment for athletes, spectators, and staff, and fewer needless delays, cancellations, or disruptions to the tournament schedule.