The Winter Olympics 2018, which are being held in Pyeongchang, South Korea, are shaping up to be among the coldest in recent times.
Pyeongchang is located about 110 miles east of Seoul, which is the South Korean capitol. Pyeongchang is a skiing area located within South Korea that is situated in a mountainous area of the country. Alpensia and Yongpyong are two ski resorts that are hosting the Olympics. You can see Pyeongchang on a map here.
Just how cold will it be in Pyeongchang?
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Temperatures Warmed Slightly Before the Opening Ceremonies But It’s Expected to Be So Cold & Windy That Some Events Might Be Cancelled
It’s gotten a little warmer in Pyeongchang with the Friday, February 8, 2018 opening ceremonies looming. However, it’s still expected to be extremely cold. According to The Weather Channel, “temperatures should be near freezing during the ceremony. Even with this period of warmer weather, this could be the coldest Games in decades.”
Exactly how cold is it supposed to get? According to NBC News, “The city has already seen lows of -9 degrees, but Friday’s forecast is expected to range from a high of 40 degrees Fahrenheit to a low of 30 degrees Fahrenheit.” 30 degrees Fahrenheit is -1.11 Celsius. However, the temperatures could drop even lower, to 11 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s -11.667 degrees Celsius.
At time, temperatures have dropped as low as -4 degrees Fahrenheit, which is -10 degrees Celsius.
The wind is a peril too, not just the cold. It’s possible that the men’s downhill ski competition could be cancelled if forecasts materialize. “Winds are forecast to reach as high as 35mph, which would cause the gondolas taking the skiers up the mountain to be closed and for the event to be cancelled,” reports The Evening Standard.
You can read the Pyeongchang weather forecast here.
2. The Americans’ Team Uniforms Are Equipped With Mini Heaters
It’s not that people didn’t prepare for the cold. In fact, the American athletes are wearing team uniforms that contain built-in mini heaters. How do they work? The down parkas come “equipped with a button on a slender battery pack inside that the athletes can push to get an instant and long-lasting jolt of toasty warmth,” reports USA Today.
They were designed by Ralph Lauren. “It’s the most technologically advanced jacket ever produced,” David Lauren, Ralph’s son, told the newspaper. “There have been heatable blankets for kids before but they have wires. This is a fabric with ink that heats up — it’s weightless, it’s conductive and it’s immediate.”
Olympic organizers are trying to make sure that spectators are protected too. “Spectators at the open-air Olympic Stadium will be given six items to combat the cold and allow them to enjoy the celebration in comfort. The items include: a raincoat, lap blanket, knit caps, a warm seat cushion and multiple hand and feet warmers,” the Pyeongchang Olympics’ website reports.
In addition, “16 rooms with wind screens” are being set up “where spectators can stop in and take a break from the cold. Hawkers selling hot drinks will roam the aisles. Spectators are encouraged to dress warmly and use mufflers, thick socks and heat packs,” the Olympics’ website reports. Hypothermia can take place in about 45 minutes.
3. Winds From Siberia Are Partly to Blame for the Chill
Blame Siberia. According to USA Today, Pyeongchang is “notorious for a powerful, biting wind that gathers force as it barrels down out of Siberia and the Manchurian Plain and then across the jagged granite peaks of North Korea.”
“Gusts from Siberia keep the air extremely cold and dry. If the winds stay to the east, there could be flash snowfalls in the mountains. Frigid winds are expected to make the cold even more intense,” reports NBC.
According to Accuweather, “PyeongChang is Earth’s coldest location for that particular latitude.” It’s in a mountainous area. “February will mark the waning weeks of the harsh, east-Asian winter, which is comparable in many ways with winter in the northeastern United States,” reports Accuweather, adding, “PyeongChang’s winter months are typically cold and dry, and major snowstorms are rare in February.”
4. It Was Really Cold in Lillehammer, Norway Too
It’s hardly the first time that the Winter Olympics have been held in frigid temperatures. After all, they are the Winter Olympics. Lillehammer, Norway was freezing too. Those Olympic Games were held in 1994 and, Accuweather reports, they were among the coldest Olympic games in history.
In Lillehammer, for comparison purposes, the temperature dropped to minus 11 Celsius.
5. It’s So Cold in Pyeongchang That Some Skis Are Warping During Training Runs
The frigid temperatures are causing a host of problems for athletes. Skiiers are having to discard their skis after they warped from the cold during training runs, Reuters reports. It’s the result of what the British news site terms “brutally cold conditions.”
Craig Randell, a start crew technician, told Reuters: “You can’t do anything about it but with the cold temperatures, the snow adheres to the ski base and twists it. They are turning their skis to garbage real fast.”
The cold is also sapping cell phone batters.