Balmy Weather at the Winter Olympics

Frigid temperatures and abundant snowfall have been dominating this winter season across most of the continental U.S.  In Sochi, Russia, however, the XXII Olympic Winter Games have had a more spring-like feel.

Russia, famous for cold and snowy winters, has a few relative warm spots.  Sochi is one of them. Situated between the Black Sea and the Caucasus Mountains, it has a subtropical climate that supports palm trees.  While there is usually snow in the mountains, the city’s average temperature for this time of year is about 50°F.

This week, temperatures in Sochi have been running above average.  Today, the mercury hit 59°F and highs are forecast to be in the 60°s for the rest of the week.  Even in the higher elevations of the so called “mountain cluster” venue – site of all the skiing, snowboarding, and sledding events – temperatures have been well above freezing during the day.  This mild weather is turning the hard packed competition snow into slush – creating difficult conditions for many of the athletes.

While the current balmy weather has caused some delays, it has not hindered the Games. With hundreds of snowmaking machines and a stockpile of natural snow stored from previous years, officials say they are prepared to supply as much snow as necessary.  That said, these Winter Olympics are on track to be the warmest in history.

Average minimum temperatures for January and February from 1911-2011 for all the locations that have hosted the Olympic Winter Games. Image Credit: NOAA

Average minimum temperatures for January and February from 1911-2011 for all the locations that have hosted the Olympic Winter Games.    Image Credit: NOAA.

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