MOSCOW, September 17 (R-Sport) – One of Russia's top weathermen is sticking his neck out just under six months before the Sochi Olympics start to predict appropriately wintry conditions for the Games.
Fears of unseasonably warm weather in the Caucasus Mountains for the February 6-23 event have prompted organizers to store nearly half a million cubic meters of snow in huge refrigerated reservoirs ready for deployment on the ski slopes if the clouds fail to deliver.
But Dmitry Kiktev, deputy director of the state-run Gidromettsentr weather agency, suggested that project could all be for naught.
"The temperature in February on the whole is to be around the climactic norm in the Sochi region and across the Caucasus," Kiktev said.
"The norm for Sochi is plus 5 degrees (Celsius), and if you go up into the mountains then there it will all be very different, of course," he said, meaning a sharp drop in temperatures.
The Paralympic Games, which follow on March 7-16, however, could suffer from melting snow, he warned, in which case the colossal snow reserves may be called upon.
"In March in the Caucasus region we are seeing an anomaly of positive temperatures," Kiktev said. "There may be a very warm spell for a few days, and if this is accompanied by heavy precipitation in the form of rain, the snow could melt quickly and the snow cannons and reservoirs may be required."
But he warned Sochi's location on the shore of the Black Sea coupled with the jagged relief of the mountains make weather predictions a dangerous business.
The Vancouver 2010 Games were afflicted by spring-like conditions and snow had to be trucked into Cypress Mountain ahead of the event.