Twenty-one runners died of hypothermia during the 100 km Ultramarathon Mountain race in Baiyin, Gansu Province on 22 May 2021. The hypothermia was caused by a combination of low temperatures, precipitation, and high winds associated with a typical large-scale cold front passing by the race site that morning. Based on historical hourly records of 13 meteorological surface stations over the past six years, temperature (3.0°C) and apparent temperature (−5.1°C) at 1200 LST as well as gust wind speed (11.2 m s−1) at 1100 LST on the day of the tragedy were found to be within the top or bottom 5th percentile for the month of May. The precipitation was only moderate at this time, but when temperature lower than 3.0°C, gust wind speed greater than 11.2 m s−1, and precipitation greater than 0.1 mm for any adjacent three hours were combined together, 1200 LST 22 May fell within the top 0.1% of cases. The European Centre for Medium-range Weather Forecasting model produced reasonably good forecasts of the low temperature and high wind one day and seven days before the event, respectfully. Based on this study, lessons that can be learned from this tragedy are summarized from an academic perspective: Hazard and impact forecasts of high-impact weather events should be developed to increase the value of weather forecasts. Probability forecasts should be issued by government weather agencies and communicated well to the public. And more importantly, knowledge of how to evaluate the impact of weather should be delivered to the public in the future.
We would like to extend our deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of the people who lost their lives in this tragedy, including 21 runners and one officer. May our efforts honor those who lost their lives by highlighting the value of weather forecasting and calling for greater action in the future.
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This study was supported by the National Key Research and Development Project (Grant No. 2017YFC1502004) and National Natural Science Foundation of China under Grant No. 42030607.
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Zhang, Q., Ng, CP., Dai, K. et al. Lessons Learned from the Tragedy during the 100 km Ultramarathon Race in Baiyin, Gansu Province on 22 May 2021. Adv. Atmos. Sci. 38, 1803–1810 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00376-021-1246-0
- low temperature
- high wind
- value of weather forecast