Snow Is In The Forecast

2014-02-08 18:17:38.000 – Michael Kyle,  Weather Observer

Map of the Sochi region

While snow is in the forecast here in the White Mountains, this time I am not referring to the White Mountain region. Instead I’m referring to the Caucasus mountain range just outside of Sochi, Russia; where the 2014 Winter Olympic Games are being hosted. Contrary to a lot of the media hype there is snow at the Olympic winter games.

While the Olympic host city of Sochi may be free of snow due its close proximity to the Black Sea; the Krasnaya Polyana region, which is where the mountain cluster of the winter games is being held, has plenty of snow. Krasnaya Polyana is located roughly 40 miles northeast of Sochi in the Caucasus mountain range. This is where the outdoor events such as skiing/snowboarding, luge, bobsledding, and many more outdoor events are being held. The weather of the Krasnaya Polyana region is significantly different than the weather in Sochi. Due to the increase in elevation (ranging from 1,857ft to 7300ft) the average temperatures are much lower than the temperatures seen in Sochi. According to Roshydromet, the Russian agency responsible for monitoring and forecasting the weather for the Sochi winter games, February’s monthly mean temperature for Krasnaya Polyana is 35 degrees F. The higher elevations of Krasnaya Polyana see monthly mean temperatures of 16 degrees F. This makes for a much more conducive environment for outdoor winter events, than in the coastal town of Sochi.

To provide a more local prospective on this situation we can compare the temperatures of Portsmouth, NH to the temperatures here at Mount Washington. The climate of Portsmouth is colder then Sochi. The distance is between Mount Washington and Portsmouth is greater than the distance between Sochi and Krasnaya Polyana. However, the change in temperature do to elevation is very similar between the two different coastal and mountain regions. For example the monthly mean temperature for the month of February in Portsmouth is 27 degrees F, while the the monthly mean temperature for the month of February at Mount Washington is 6 degrees F. The difference in elevation between the two locations provides each location with dramatically different weather. The point I’m trying to make is that the weather can change a lot with elevation. So don’t look up Sochi’s forecast and think that it’s the same for Krasnaya Polyana. Just like you wouldn’t look up Portsmouth weather and think it’s the same up on Mount Washington.


Michael Kyle,  Weather Observer

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