SUNRISE, Fla. -- When the Pebble Beach Golf Links last hosted the U.S. Open Championship, in 2000, fog forced the suspension of play for 24 hours, beginning early in the first round.
Thor Guard meteorologists may not be able to prevent a repeat of the foggy conditions, but they'll do their best to alert Pebble Beach superintendent Chris Dalhamer and Mike Davis, the USGA's director of rules and competitions, to weather that may threaten play or put spectators in danger.
"My job is to make sure Chris and Mike know how their plan for the day's play could be affected by weather and how they might need to make adjustments," said Thor Guard's Greg Quinn, who will be working his 10th U.S. Open.
Unlike Bethpage Black, which was soaked by six to seven inches of rain during last year's championship, and other U.S. Open sites where lightning and electrical storms are a threat, Pebble's biggest concern will be wind and the infamous fog that can settle over the Monterey Peninsula and severely limit visibility. As Quinn says, "If you can't see 'em, you can't hit 'em."
The severity of the fog during this year's Open, Quinn explains, will be determined by what's known as temperature inversion layers. Inversion layers are areas where the normal decrease in air temperature with increasing altitude is reversed and air above the ground is warmer than the air below it. Inversion layers are normally broken up by passing storm systems, but June can be a quiet time for storms in and around the Monterey Peninsula, meaning heavy fog could linger over the course.
Despite the sophisticated computer forecast models and satellite imagery at his fingertips, fog can be difficult to predict, Quinn says. "Even slight changes in wind direction can move fog into one area and completely miss another area nearby."
Once the fog settles in or the rain starts falling, the main thing Dalhamer, Davis and Thomas O'Toole Jr., the championship committee chairman at Pebble Beach, want to know is when the sun is going to return. "We'll try to narrow down the window and give them our best thinking," Quinn says. "After that, it's their tournament. We just try to make their decisions a little easier for them."
About Thor Guard
Since 1976 Thor Guard weather prediction systems have provided reliable and accurate advance warning of the potential for lightning and other adverse weather conditions. Utilizing proprietary atmospheric electrostatic analysis technology, Thor Guard provides lightning predictions and warnings, along with live streaming local radar, to help protect people and equipment, as well as better manage events. Thor Guard is the only standalone lightning warning device used by the USGA, LPGA, American Junior Golf Association, Royal Canadian Golf Association and the Canadian, European and South African professional tours. Thor Guard is also used by the Department of Homeland Security, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Air Canada, United Airlines, Fed Ex, Motorola, AT&T, and more than 700 universities, schools and municipalities.
Bryant Marketing Communications