Winter Olympics 2018: Pyeongchang set to be coldest games in 20 years

Mythili Sampathkumar

This Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, is set to be the coldest games in over 20 years.

It could have to do with the fact that the last three Winter Olympics - Sochi, Russia, in 2014; Vancouver, Canada, in 2010; Torino, Italy, in 2006 - were the warmest the games have ever been.

Not taking into account times of year and geographical differences, the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, were among the coldest ever games on record.

Temperatures in Lillehammer, the farthest north the Games have ever been held, dipped to 27F (-2.7 C) with a low of 12 F (-11 C) and, according to The Weather Channel, temperatures during the opening ceremony in Pyeongchang hovered in the mid-teens to low 20s F.

During a rehearsal for the event some audience members walked out of the stadium because the temperature was 6 F (-14 C) with a wind chill factor of 7 below zero. Seven people had to be treated for hypothermia.

It caused some countries like Australia and Italy to skip the ceremony in case standing in the cold for that long in an unheated stadium with no roof could cause harm to athletes' performance.

US athletes participated but came equipped with battery-powered, electrically heated jackets.

Audience members had a slew of "warming tents" outside the stadium to help them on the walk from various parking lots as well as a welcome packet that included seat warmers, blankets, and knitted hats.

However, that was just one place at one time. The average low temperature expected this year is expected to be 13 F (-10.5 C).

It is difficult to compare Olympic host cities and various times of year the games may have been held, but as CNN reported: “when you're looking at latitude, Pyeongchang is the coldest city in relation to where it is in the world. The city roughly shares a latitude with San Francisco; Richmond, Virginia; and Seville in the south of Spain. Not exactly historically cold places.”

South Korea is also quite mountainous, which factored into the average temperature readings.


USA Today reported that the city in the northeastern part of the country 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.”


In Sochi the temperature was a balmy 61 F (16 C) on one day of the Olympics, but with a normal high of 30 F (-1 C) they will not have an issue landing in puddles of water instead of snow in Pyeongchang.

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