Wanted: Snow for the Olympics

Well the Olympics get underway in just about 2 weeks and with Vancouver hosting this round of the games, you would think that all would be set to go.  The venues are getting their final touches, the locals are preparing for the wave of athletes and spectators, while one of the ski slopes just a half hour outside of town is using helicopters to bring in bales of hay and trucking in snow.  Yes, one of the sites for six skiing and snowboarding events has been dealt a mild winter with lower than average snowfall.  A main reason for this is that we are in the heart of an El Nino winter weather pattern.  Typically for the western US and Canada, the main storm track brings the lower elevation rain and mountain snow to California and the southwestern states.  Meantime farther to the north, the typical wet weather you associate with Seattle and the Pacific Northwest still can take place, but instead of dealing with chilly raw days in the 40s, temperatures manage to climb into the 50s and even near 60 at times.  Seattle is 140 miles to the south of Vancouver and this month they have had above average temperatures by 5.5 degrees and rainfall of  nearly 6", which is almost 2" above the January average. 

How about the folks in Vancouver?  The month of January has been mild and wet.  Highs have averaged close to 50 degrees, while rainfall has added up to just under 6.50".  As you would probably guess, it's been too warm for snow.  So to make up for the lull in wintry weather, Cypress Mountain is shipping in snow from higher and colder elevations, and to make it easier for the snow to appear deeper, layering bales of hay on the ground.  Stack up that hay and you can have 2 ft of "filler" underneath whatever snow they can find.  The outlook as the Olympics start on February 12th is not looking promising for a surge of colder or snowier weather in western British Columbia.  To better gauge how the weather is out there, compare it how things shape up here at home.  Typically when a blast of arctic air is invading the western Great Lakes, a large trough is being dug out by the jet stream.  So if it's frigidly cold on one side of the country, it's bound to be mild, if not warm in another, and that ridge in the jet will likely be encompassing the western US and Canada.  Thus we'd have to go back to the mild weather pattern which we just had, while the frosty air in northern Canada blasts down into the northern and western Rockies.  Again, this doesn't appear to be in the works right now for the start of February, but we'll see how the weather pattern may adjust.  Nevertheless, other outdoor events being held at Whistler Mountain 90 miles to the north should go off without a hitch, as they have been cold enough to enjoy plenty of snow.  Add to that all of those other indoor events that tend to get just as much attention and hopefully we'll hardly notice when the big medal events are taking place.

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