Subtropical Sochi, historically known as the “Caucasian Riviera”, is preparing for any unseasonably warm weather which may hamper its hosting of the 2014 Winter Olympics in February by “storing” nearly one half million tons of snow in event it is needed. Unseasonably warm weather and shortages of snow have plagued recent Winter Games, including the last Games in Vancouver.
The main enclosed event areas of Sochi 2014 are located at sea level in the city of Adler along the Black Sea coast, whilst the “mountain cluster” some 48 kilometers away in the Krasnaya Polyana region will host the alpine events. The alpine region is at relatively low altitude (900 -1950 metres) and has experienced warm weather and snow shortages in past, including this past Winter during which rain and a lack of snow forced the cancellation of some alpine World Cup test events held at the site.
Organizers first tested the idea of storing snow 3 years ago by bull dozing it into shallow ravines and then covering the snow with sawdust; however, this proved unsatisfactory. The new method employs snow plowed into storage areas and then covered by “snow blankets” made of special insulated fabric which also deflects the sun’s rays.
In the event it is needed, the stored snow will be used to create a base of snow to then be supplemented with conventional snow making equipment.