Nightly News   |  February 06, 2010

Olympic officials battle unseasonable weather

The warmest January on record is robbing an Olympic venue of its snow. NBC’s Ron Mott reports from unseasonably balmy Vancouver.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> the top of this newscast, weather is making big news here in vancouver , too, where tonight olympic organizers may be looking toward the u.s. east coast with, as hard as it is to believe, a little snow envy. the temperatures here today reached into the low 50s. not good news for those olympic sports that depend on snow. nbc's ron mott is here to tell us more and about what they're going to do about it.

>> reporter: hello, lester. welcome to town. it has been unseasonably warm in vancouver for more than a month now. while the weather has added to the workload, officials today reiterated the games will go on as planned where planned. white-capped mountains as far as the eye can see. with plenty of fluffy powder on the slopes.

>> it's amazing. it's really -- it's the best it's been in a long time.

>> reporter: at whistler, 80 miles north of vancouver , and site of alpine skiing set to start next weekend, the snowpack is almost nine feet deep, near-perfect conditions. but closer to town cherry blossoms have awakened because of a balmy and wet january, an average of nearly 40 degrees. those temperatures also robbed cyprus mountain, another olympic venue across the harbor of its snow base down o'just 36 inches.

>> the amount of snow this year, the amount of natural snow is about 1/2 of what it was this time last year.

>> reporter: to replace what's been lost there, extreme measures . moving mountains of snow for the extreme sports on the way. freestyle skiing and snowboarding. today organizers announced training runs for athletes will be limited to reduce wear.

>> we've been pushing cats 24 hours a day seven days a week to push what they're calling the largest snowball on earth down this mountain.

>> reporter: helicopters have scooped more than 20 tons of snow from nearby peaks to help shape the race courses. truck convoys have also been hauling and dumping. and straw bales, which will be topped with freshly harvested snow, are used as filler. the games' top local official toured the games by air this week and emerged pleased.

>> it looks good. the staff have worked hard. if you'd up there -- i've been there three times in the last week. and the amount of snow that's been moved by the crew up there, it's extraordinary what they've been able to do.

>> reporter: the vancouver organizing committee won't say exactly how much this all-out effort costs, but lester, early estimates are running well into the six figures.

>> my guess is there are some folks on the east coast who would be happy to contribute to this snow effort tonight.

>> reporter: absolutely.

>> ron, thank you.

>>> as "nightly news" continues on