bc-100111-cypress-monday

The ski lifts were empty Monday as B.C.'s Cypress Mountain was closed to public skiing to try to help preserve snow for the Olympics during a mild spell. ((CBC))

The massive amount of precipitation falling in B.C.'s Lower Mainland is not the kind usually associated with winter, and that's raising some questions about the conditions on ski slopes for the Winter Olympics.

At a time of year when snow is usually falling at higher elevations, about 60 millimetres of rain fell Monday on Metro Vancouver's North Shore mountains. Another 30 millimetres was forecast for Tuesday.

Cypress Mountain on the North Shore is home to freestyle skiing and snowboarding competitions for the Games, which open on Feb. 12.

But Olympic organizers said Monday they are not concerned about the conditions on the mountain, although they have closed it to public skiing to help preserve the snow that is there.

"We're protecting all the snow that we can to make sure that we have adequate [supply]," said Tim Gayda, vice-president of sport for the Vancouver Olympic organizing committee.

Snow in storage

VANOC has been stockpiling artificial and natural snow for the past two months, Gayda said. The snow is piled up and covered with blue tarps on the mountainside to keep it cool during the kind of double-digit above-zero temperatures the Lower Mainland has basked in for days, and which are expected to continue for at least a few more days.

Officials were able to accumulate the snow during colder weather and heavy snowfalls in November. That built up a packed base, which is still two metres deep.

Olympic organizers said they would wait a few more days to decide whether  to open Cypress Mountain to public skiing again or to keep it closed.

"We want to leave that as late as we can," said Gayda. "If we have this kind of weather staying right through, we want to protect that snow for as long as we can."