Weather a worry for Games

By BOB MACKIN, QMI AGENCY

There may be a cool change on the horizon, according to Environment Canada meteorologist David Jones.

"There's a hint that as we get towards next week we'll start to see cooler air," Jones said. "That warm, milder air that's out in the Pacific to the west of us is going to be replaced by colder air."

That could be relief for Olympics organizers worried by warm and wet January weather that is threatening outdoor venues. VANOC may still decide Wednesday to shut Cypress Mountain's alpine runs two weeks early as a precaution.

The West Vancouver venue of snowboarding and freestyle skiing is the most susceptible to weather because of its proximity to the ocean. VANOC already turned 95.3 million litres of water into snow, which will augment what already fell on competition courses.

Elsewhere, the record November snowfall in Whistler allowed crews to begin building the Creekside alpine skiing course.

VANOC said Monday the Callaghan Valley cross-country ski trails are a metre deep. The ski jump runs are refrigerated, as is the Whistler Sliding Centre's bobsleigh, skeleton and luge track.

Jones said El Nino "loads the dice towards more frequent, more mild weather systems on the coast during the winter," but it is far too early to predict the weather for February's Games.

"All it takes is a week of the skier's pattern - cold air offshore, storms coming at us from the north, northwest - and the snow piles up again," he said.

COUNTDOWN

- Jan. 12: Main press centre opens

- Jan. 15: Quebec Street from Terminal to 2nd closes.

- Jan. 24: Renfrew St. from McGill to Dundas closes.

- Jan. 29: Pacific and Expo Boulevards close.

- Jan. 29: Olympic Villages open, airspace security restrictions begin.

- Feb. 4: Olympic lane traffic restrictions begin.

- Feb. 5: Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts close.

- Feb. 11: Olympic torch relay in Vancouver.

- Feb. 12: Opening ceremony, B.C. Place.

- Feb. 28: Closing ceremony, B.C. Place.

- March 1: Olympic lane traffic restrictions end.

- March 12: Paralympic opening ceremony, B.C. Place.

- March 21: Paralympic closing ceremony, Whistler.

- March 24: Paralympic Villages close, airspace security restrictions end.

POLL