SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Beijing, China, is hosting the 2022 Winter Olympics this month. In 2008, Beijing also hosted the Summer Olympics.
The unique physical geography makes it possible for the city to be the first to host both the Summer and Winter Olympic Games.
Beijing, China’s capital, is located in the northeastern portion of the country on the edge of the North China Plain. This is part of the Yellow River Valley. The region also borders the Yellow Sea, and Beijing itself is located about 90 miles from the coast.
Beijing’s elevation ranges from about 60 to 200 feet above sea level. Located just to the west and north of the city are the Xishan and Yanshan mountains that in areas are over 6,000 feet above sea level.
Beijing’s climate is classified as a dry monsoon humid continental climate zone. This is the perfect climate for big swings between summer and winter conditions.
July is the warmest and wettest month in Beijing. Temperatures average between 73°F for lows and 89°F for highs. Typically, about 6.50” of rain is expected.
February is not the coldest month in Beijing, however, temperatures average between 24°F for lows and 42°F for highs. Only 0.20” of rain, or liquid equivalent to rain, typically falls.
This is the third driest month on average. And since it is so dry, significant snowfall events are rare in the region.
Many of the outdoor events, such as skiing, bobsledding and the biathlon will be held in Zhangjiakou and Yanqin. Both districts are located to the northwest of Beijing in the mountains.
Zhangjiakou’s climate in February is much cooler than Beijing’s. The average high is 35°F and lows are typically around 14°F. Only 0.16″ of precipitation occurs.
February is so dry with little snow, to solve this problem, you manufacture the snow needed for outdoor events. Snow guns will be used to create all the snow needed for alpine skiing and other skiing events, such as the biathlon.
Water will be drawn from regional reservoirs and will be treated and sprayed into the air to artificially create the ample snowpack needed. The ideal temperature for snowmaking is 28°F or colder.
While this will be the first Olympics to use all manufactured snow, Beijing will not be the first Winter Olympic venue to use any. Recent venues to use manufactured snow have been 1980 Lake Placid, NY; 2010 Vancouver, Canada; and 2014 Sochi, Russia.
In the future, as temperatures become warmer and snowfall less reliable in locations suitable for hosting winter sports, the use of manufactured snow during the Olympics is likely to become more prevalent.