Mother Nature Not Cooperating at Olympics

What happens if you throw a Winter Olympics and the snow doesn't show up? Or worse yet it rains relentlessly? That's the problem facing officials in Vancouver, reports CBS News Correspondent Sandra Hughes.

With less than two weeks to go before the opening ceremonies, Olympic organizers in Vancouver are sweating. Warmer than average temperatures last month have produced more rain than snow at one of the main venues.

The problem is on Cypress Mountain just outside Vancouver where the free-style skiing and snow boarding events are planned and where it feels a lot like spring.

"You know, my garden has crocuses coming out already," said Douw Steyn, a meteorlogist at the University of British Columbia.

The warm weather has made a natural accumulation of snow at lower elevations impossible, so artificial snow from higher up is being brought in. So far more than 300 truckloads have arrived. Helicopters are being used to drop some 800 bales of hay which will be used under the snow to shape the slope. There's plenty of snow at nearby Whistler Mountain, which is at a higher elevation and is the site for most of the alpine skiing events.

"We have enough snow on the mountain to do what we need to do," said Tim Gayda of the Vancouver Olympic Organzing Committee.

Experts blame the wacky weather on el Niño.

"The temperatures have been higher than normal, so what falls does not fall as snow," Steyn said.

Forecasters measuring Pacific Ocean warming trends knew the el Niño effect was on its way back in july of last summer, but even then was too late to re-arrange venues.

"Historically you just never know with Winter Olympics weather," said Olympic historian David Wallechinsky.

At the 1964 Austrian games, the army had to be called in to haul snow down from the mountaintop. At the 1988 Nagano games there was too much snow.

"You're going to find the International Olympic Committee demanding of organizing committees for the Winter Olympics 'What's your contingency plan in case there's not enough snow?'" Wallechinsky said.

For now, no one is blaming global warming for Vancouver's water woes, and the athletes say they're ready to compete, even on a half pipe made of hay.