Friday sees the start of the 22nd Winter Olympic Games and this year the host city is Sochi in Russia.
Whilst we tend to think of Russia as being a cold, snowy place in winter, Sochi is located in the far south of the country and is a coastal resort on the eastern side of the Black Sea at a latitude of just 43N. This is the same as the French Riviera and the summer weather there is also comparable with average daytime maximum temperatures around 28C and 9-10 hours of sunshine.
So how do February conditions compare with us here in Bucks? Well, they can expect about 130mm of precipitation in the month – nearly three times what we receive on average.
Much like in southern England, most of this falls as rain rather than snow. The average daytime maximum temperature in Sochi in February is 10C – chilly yes, but hardly what you’d expect for the host city of the Winter Olympics and milder than the Bucks average of 7-8C.
Most of the Olympic events themselves will be held in and around the Rosa Khutor Alpine Resort, about 30 miles inland from Sochi, with the main ski events taking place on slopes averaging 1,450m. Whilst this is certainly nowhere near the heights of the main ski resorts in the European Alps, which rise above 3,000m in places, it is high enough to receive plenty of winter snow. Typically, temperatures fall by up to 1C per 100m increase in altitude, so the competitors will be experiencing temperatures over 10C colder than those in Sochi itself .
Even so, it’s not likely to be one of the coldest ever winter games and the spectators will probably need to wrap up warmer at the 2018 games in mountainous Pyeongchang, South Korea!
Back home and, following the wettest January across England and Wales in records dating back nearly 250 years, our mild, wet, windy ‘westerly’ winter continues. Today will bring heavy showers and strong gusty winds. It should be drier and brighter for a time tomorrow before more rain threatens from the south late in the day.
Brighter again on Friday, but more strong winds and plenty of showers for the weekend.