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Climate favorable for Bozeman Olympic bid

By Matt Gray, Meteorologist/Reporter, mgray@keci.com
Published On: Feb 10 2014 08:53:39 AM MST
Updated On: Feb 10 2014 09:24:35 AM MST
BOZEMAN, Mont. -

It seems obvious that Bozeman has the right climate for a Winter Olympic Games; but patterns in choosing past host cities suggest otherwise.

Bozeman would be the second farthest host city from an ocean, 20 miles less than Salt Lake City. Two other cities in the Rockies have hosted the games, Calgary in 1988, and Salt Lake City in 2010.

Most Olympic hosts are rather close to large bodies of water. Large cities that can support an understaking such as the Olympics are often closer to the water, and more people flock there largely due to the better weather.

Coastal climates are mild thanks to the warm winter ocean.

Bozeman has more of an inland climate, one that is more prone to bone-chilling winter cold. Average temperatures for Bozeman stack up well, however.

With an average high of 35 and a low of 15 in February, Bozeman falls right in line with Calgary's averages and is only slightly cooler than Salt Lake. Average highs in the 20s for previous hosts Lillehammer, Norway, and St. Moritz, Switzerland mean that Bozeman isn't even close to the coldest city to host a games.

The biggest reason for coastal cities getting the nod is the potential for more snow.
Whistler, British Columbia, held the outdoor events for the 2010 Vancouver games. They average almost 500 inches of snow each year.

Calgary's site for alpine skiing only averaged 250 inches per year, and the two resorts used during the Salt Lake games averaged 300 to 365 inches.  Compared to Calgary and Salt Lake, Bozeman falls right in the middle for snowfall.

The most likely facilities used during an Olympic games would be Bridger Bowl and Big Sky Resort. Bridger averages 350 inches of snow a year, and Big Sky averages over 400 inches.

As recently as 1980, cities with less snow and more volatile weather hosted the games. Lake Placid, New York averages less than 200 inches of snow at its resorts. Upstate New York is also prone to frequent winter storms.

Bozeman's climate should not be a huge factor in a hypothetical Olympic bid. As shown with Salt Lake City and Calgary, there is a precedent for holding successful games in this climate.

The chances for Bozeman 2026 will come down to factors other than the environment.