Seen by millions of viewers around the world, the last thing anybody want to see is the legendary Olympic torch extinguish during its lighting ceremony. So to help avoid a catastrophe and prepare for the worst kind of weather, BMW's Energy and Environmental Test Center (ETC) in Munich was used to test the torch ahead of its 70-day Olympic Relay around Britain.
The Center is able to simulate some of the world's most extreme weather systems in one building and is normally used to examine BMW vehicles in its three wind tunnels and two climatic test chambers.
With a temperature range of -4F to +131F, the company can can reproduce the Arctic Tundra or Sahara Desert, generating wind speeds up 174mph. The facility can also simulate an altitude of 13780ft above sea level.
As the Olympic Torch travels around the UK it will have to remain lit in all weathers, including freezing temperatures at mountain summits, strong winds in the north of Scotland and summer heat in the South of England, not to mention the inevitable rain.
The Torch stood up to extreme weather at the BMW facility, enduring +23F to +104F temperatures, +50mph winds, snow packing the front of the torch, and driving rain. Fortunately, the flame stayed alight throughout.
Double British Olympic champion, Daley Thompson, experienced some of the conditions firsthand, standing in one of the wind tunnels with the torch in hand. He said: "The Olympic Torch Relay is set to build excitement for London 2012 throughout the UK, so it's really important that the Torch can cope with our unpredictable British weather. Seeing the facility that BMW has and knowing the Torch has been tested so robustly makes me sure we're going to be able to build that excitement ahead of a brilliant summer of sport."
As part of its partnership with the London 2012 Olympic Games, BMW will provide torchbearers from customers, dealers, staff and charities. The Olympic Torch Relay will begin its 70-day tour on 19 May, involving 8000 torchbearers and traveling within 10 miles of 95% of the UK population.