Olympics Organizers Sweating Over Lack of Snowfall
"Can't we just have them water-ski instead?" Photo via The Telegraph
While the Eastern seaboard of the US faces whiteout conditions, the host city for the Winter Olympics, set to open this Friday, is finding itself strangely short on snow. Since organizers realized that none was on the way, they have been scrambling to do all they can to ensure there's enough of the stuff to support the games. The problem is that temperatures during January were the highest on record and snowfall has been sparse. Conditions are so balmy, in fact, residents have been seen wearing shorts.Nature is Not Providing Any More Snow
According to a report from The Guardian, after learning they weren't going to be delivered any snow by nature before the start of the games, organizers have been working tirelessly to procure the stuff other ways. Helicopters have been bringing snow every five minutes, trucks have been driving it in from far away, while snow cannons have been blowing constantly.
On the mountainside, organizers are cooling what little snow there is with dry-ice to try to keep it from melting in the unseasonably warm weather.
Plenty of Rain, and That's Not Helping
Temperatures have been about 6°F above average so far this month--and it's been rainy. Meteorologist Jim Andrews told The Guardian:
The problem isn't the lack of precipitation. The weather has just been too warm to sustain snow in the lower elevations. It's umbrella weather. 100% humidity and soaking rain that is real hard on whatever they are trying to keep solid for the day itself.
As organizers have been sweating, from anxiety, exhaustion, and perhaps, the heat, local residents seem to be enjoying the unusually mild temperatures--some were seen playing tennis in shorts as cherry-blossoms bloomed as though the Spring had arrived.
Organizers Optimistic They Can Pull it Off
So far though, organizers are optimistic their efforts will pay off. Just days before an enormous event that celebrates the spirit of competition, Dick Vollet, whose job it is to manage mountain operations, describes the progress made in his own battle:
So far we are winning. We are quite happy with where we are given that we are fighting mother nature, and sometimes she can be very unforgiving.
Despite the snow falling on the other side of the continent, for Vancouver at least, predictions that this year may be the warmest on record seem to be right on track--which is bad news for an event that so desperately needs snow.
This Has Happened Before
The Guardian points out that this isn't the first time snow has had to be transplanted for the Winter Olympics. For the 1964 games in Innsbruck, too, 40,000 cubic meters of snow had to be trucked-in.
But, as global temperatures rise, cities hosting the Winter Olympics may find it increasingly difficult to ensure, or at least confidently predict, the weather will allow the games to be possible.
Winter Olympics 2056 in the South Pole, perhaps?