Winds creating an Olympic challenge - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Winds creating an Olympic challenge

Weather chart showing a Siberian High over the Korean mountain range Weather chart showing a Siberian High over the Korean mountain range

The 2018 Winter Olympics are in full swing in PyeongChang, South Korea but a few events are on hold due to the weather. 

Winds are creating some major problems on the slope for skiers and snowboarders. 

Several Olympic competitions have been postponed due to strong winds creating unsafe conditions for sports that are already considered dangerous. 

Winds in excess of 50 mph have even caused many of the brave competitors to question their own safety. 

Czech snowboarder Sarka Pancochova told reporters this week, “You’re going up the chairlift and you see these little tornadoes, and you’re like, ‘What is this?"

Those were mini vortexes created by the strong winds. 

The mountain range of the Korean Peninsula is no stranger to excessive winds and bitter cold. The high elevation is the reason for both. 

PyeongChang is at the same latitude as San Francisco, CA, Wichita, KS, and Paducah, KY, but it is much colder and windier due to it's elevation and close proximity to Siberia. 

High pressure often builds just to the northwest of the South Korean mountain range driving bitterly cold and dry Siberian air into the region.

The airflow over the mountains is especially strong due to its unobstructed flow. 

As the winds travel through the mountain passes they become compressed and even stronger. 

This has been the case this week. 

The cold has also been a major issue. Average temperatures in the region during February are in the lower 20s. 

When winds reach 50 mph or higher the wind chill or what it feels like to exposed skin is -15 to -20 degrees. 

This week the Siberian High has been firmly entrenched making for damaging winds and dangerous cold prompting Olympic officials to postpone many downhill events. 

The high pressure system is expected to weaken Friday through the weekend but forecast models show another area of high pressure building in next week. 

So, there could be more delays.  

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