Temperatures reaching highs ranging from 50-55oF during the ‘dead’ of Winter, must be somewhere like Dallas, Madrid or even Rome, right? Wrong! This has been the trend for the past several weeks for ‘The Great White North” (a.k.a. Canada), specifically, Vancouver, British Columbia where the 2010 Winter Olympics are kicking off today. Unfortunately, the weather decided to play a few games of it’s own with the organizers of the Winter Olympics as January 2010 was the warmest on record for Vancouver and February is on track to be the warmest in at least 17 years (click to see February Temperature Graph). Even though Vancouver has one of the mildest climates out of all the cities that have hosted the Winter Olympics, the current stretch of mild weather is an ill-timed abnormality.
5 different outdoor venues in and around Vancouver will host the various outdoor Winter games like alpine skiing, snowboarding and luge races, to name a few. The freestyle skiing and snowboarding events are scheduled to take place on Cypress Mountain which is located north of downtown Vancouver, however, a lack of snowfall has made preparation for the Olympics quite tricky. The North Shore Range, which includes Cypress Mountain, usually has about 80 inches (approximately 200 cm) of snow on the ground, but this year there is only about 35 inches (90 cm) on the ground. Organizers for the Winter Olympics have been scrambling to make up for the lost snow by hauling in tens of thousands of cubic feet of snow from higher elevations via trucks and helicopters. Although temperatures will continue their mild trend through the next two weeks, actions have been taken to prevent the snow from melting; tubes filled with dry ice have been placed beneath the snow which helps to cool the snow pack from underneath to keep the snow intact.
With rain and mild weather in the forecast for Cypress Mountain, it is evident that Mother Nature is unwilling to lend a hand in the organizers efforts to keep the mountain snow covered. The first full week of the games will trend about the 3rd warmest in 17+ years. On the other hand, conditions at Whistler, which is hosting the alpine skiing events, are much more favorable for the Winter Olympics. There is plenty of snow on the ground at Whistler and more is in the forecast with 1-2 feet expected over the next week.
Organizers remain optimistic about the scheduled events at Cypress Mountain and they do not expect to move or delay any of the competitions. Guenter Hujara, race director of the International Ski Federation, has scoped out the conditions on the mountain and deemed them, “Worthy of an Olympics.”
Warm trends will continue in Vancouver throughout the first week of the Winter Olympics with a slight cool down during the second week of festivities. Unfortunately for vendors at the Winter Olympics, typical memorabilia, like sweatshirts and hoodies, will be a difficult sell, as well as hot food items like beverages and soups. Rain gear, like ponchos, umbrellas and boots, will be in high demand as rain (not snow) is likely throughout the first week of the Olympics.
Kristina Klinger, International Business Meteorologist
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