MONTREAL — Winter Olympic host city Vancouver saw its warmest January on record, marked by a lack of snow and daffodils in bloom just days before the start of the Games, the Meteorologist Service of Canada said Tuesday.
The mean temperature reached 7.2 degrees Celsius (45 degrees Fahrenheit), up from a norm of 3.3 degrees for the month, meteorologist Matthew MacDonald, reached by telephone at the Vancouver airport, told AFP.
The previous record high of 6.3 degrees was reached four times, most recently in 2006.
Vancouver saw 13 days in which temperatures went above 10 degrees (50 degrees Fahrenheit) far more than the statistical average of three days. The mercury rose as high as 14.1 degrees and did not fall below -2.7 degrees.
Equally alarming, the city did not get any snow throughout the month, while it normally records 16.6 centimetres (6.5 inches) of snowfall in January. Instead the city and the Olympic venues have been drenched with rain, worrying Games officials, athletes and fans alike.
"It feels more like March or April, weather-wise," MacDonald said.
The mild January was partly due to the warm weather phenomenon known as El Nino that has swept over Vancouver since the beginning of winter, he added.
El Nino is a cyclical warming of ocean waters in the Equatorial Pacific which has consequences for weather around the world.
From now until the opening of the Olympics on February 12, temperatures are forecast to remain slightly above normal, with less rain, MacDonald said.
Currently there is only snow at higher mountain elevations, and even there Games organizers had to move 300 truck-loads of snow to two courses on Cypress Mountain, on the city's edge, that will host snowboarding and freestyle skiing.
Last week, British Columbia officials insisted Games organizers were doing everything possible to ensure the Olympic competition areas would be up to standard.
Other outdoor events are to be held about 100 kilometres (62 miles) to the north at the Whistler ski resort, where 10 metres (33 feet) of snow have fallen so far this season, while all of the events taking place in Vancouver, such as ice hockey or figure skating, are to be held indoors.
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