NORMAN, Okla. - It was the end of June when a youth soccer team in Thailand went on a hike with their coach. On their journey, they ventured into a cave where they remain trapped for several weeks.
The heavy rain was to blame as the flooded waters seeped inside the cave, making an escape seem nearly impossible.
“We've been doing everything that we can to provide weather information to let them know what the best weather windows would be and let them know probability and certain outcomes are,” said John Tharp, forecasting operations supervisor.
Tharp said this isn't the first time Oklahoma’s Weather Decision Technologies has worked with the country. The company and its meteorologists are known for providing their clients with real-life weather forecasting for events, concerts and now a cave rescue.
“Some of those folks on the ground who are involved in the U.S. companies that are assisting reached out to us and asked if we can help provide more reliable weather information,” Tharp said.
By Monday, Navy Seals were able to rescue eight of the boys, but Tharp said more rain is scheduled in the forecast, which could make the next rescue tricky.
This time of year, Thailand could see one foot of rain per month.
“A foot of rain per month and, over the course of the summer, that builds up that any heavier rainfall that occurs is much more likely to cause flash flooding. Not to mention, in this scenario, you're already dealing with a cave where you're going to have water pulling anyway,” Tharp said.
Staff are working round the clock on a 12-hour time difference, feeding the weather information back to the country to help save the boys and their coach.
“Over the next several days, there's a 70 to 80 percent chance that they'll see two inches of rainfall but only about a 10 percent chance that they'll see four inches,” Tharp said.
Conditions are expected to get wetter; as we go through the week, rains increase each day. Tharp said the next eight or nine days could bring four to six inches of rain in the cave area.