CALGARY, ALBERTA -- As thunderheads rolled across the dark prairie sky and heavy rains flooded many downtown streets last month, Bill France looked out the window of his 10th-floor office, clasped his hands together and wondered out loud, "God, wouldn't it be nice if this was all snow?"

This was during late July in this sparkling Canadian city, a full seven months before the start of the XV Winter Olympics. Temperatures were in the mid-60s, occasionally soaring into the 70s, and all Bill France, the manager of sports administration for the Games, could think about was snow. And he was not alone.

At the end of a spectacular slide presentation at the Calgary Olympic Centre, a hands-on Olympic exhibition in a downtown shopping mall, a volunteer tells a dozen tourists, "We hope you enjoy our show, and if you wouldn't mind saying a prayer or two for snow in February, we'd certainly appreciate it."

A turbaned Indian taxi driver talks about it. So does the waiter at a restaurant in the city's thriving Chinatown. The man in charge of media housing says he'll have no problems if only some snow will cover up the mud and gravel all around the prefabricated units that will house more than 4,000 journalists.

"It'll look pretty bleak up here without the white stuff," says the guide at the bobsled and luge runs, next to the ski jumping stadium just on the outskirts of town. "We're totally refrigerated, so it won't affect the competition, but you'd sure hate to have someone complain about dust storms in February."

Every Calgarian you talk to remembers the winter of 1987, when a rare series of Chinooks -- warm, dry westerly winds blowing over the nearby Rocky Mountains -- sent temperatures into the 60s and wreaked havoc with a series of preview Olympic sports competitions. Some practice sessions for the women's World Cup downhill at Mount Allan, an hour's drive from downtown, had to be canceled. The Australian luge team showed up at the run wearing Hawaiian shirts and shorts.

Not to worry, insist the organizers. It usually snows at least nine days a month in February at the airport, and much more often in the mountains, and temperatures can be downright chilling, with an average daily high of 29 Fahrenheit and an average daily low of 9. And if an ill Chinook blows, every venue has state-of-the-art snow- or ice-making capability.

Clearly, these Games will go on, and on and on. They will last from Feb. 13 to 28, four days longer than the traditional 12-day Winter Olympics of years past, the better to give ABC Television an extra weekend in exchange for the record $309 million in rights fees it paid out just before the Sarajevo Olympics in 1984.

By the time the Games are over, the Calgary Organizing Committee, otherwise known as OCO, and various Canadian governmental agencies will have spent close to $1 billion in staging this event, a sum 10 times larger than the Lake Placid Games cost in 1980. Still, OCO officials say there will be a profit estimated in the range of $30 million to $48 million, not to mention what chief spokesman Bill Payne describes as "a priceless legacy" for this city of 640,000 residents 200 miles north of Missoula, Mont.

"We're talking about many facets to that," said Payne, a former advertising and public relations executive who is also now a provincial representative in the Alberta legislature. "We're talking about a hardware or structural legacy -- the facilities that will be left behind that Calgarians, Albertans and Canadians will enjoy for life.

"There's a psychological legacy, as well. Canadians by nature are very conservative in their estimates of their national capabilities. I'm assuming the Games will be very successful, and one consequence of that will be a local consensus that, 'Hey, we really pulled this thing off.' That self-esteem aspect of it, I personally regard as an important legacy."Outcry Over Ticket Allocation

Other than the potential issue of a snowless Olympics, one legacy that still haunts OCO involves its ticket operation. In October 1986, OCO officials announced that 90 percent of the 1.7 million tickets would be sold to the general public, with the remaining tickets going to the so-called "Olympic Family," the International Olympic Committee, corporate sponsors, etc. A few months later, however, other figures emerged: only 77 percent of the tickets were available to the public and only about 50 percent of those for the hockey and figure skating finals.

There was an immediate outcry from the local populace. "Olympic Family became synonymous with 'insiders,' " said Renee Smith, a spokesman for the OCO. "People felt a sense of ownership in the Games. They wanted to see everything. Now, there seems to be a better understanding that without all these outside people, the Games could not possibly go on. People are understanding that an Olympics is much bigger than they originally thought."

Still, the ticket issue would not go away. Shortly after the OCO began taking orders last September, ticket manager James McGregor was arrested and charged with five felony counts of fraud, theft and public mischief in connection with a skimming scandal uncovered by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. A company owned by McGregor allegedly charged American ticket buyers in U.S. dollars, then skimmed off the 35 percent difference in the exchange rates.

The Mounties say they got their man. McGregor pleaded not guilty and will stand trial in September, an event that likely will focus even more attention on a scandal OCO people clearly would like to put behind them.

"I haven't had a ticket-related telephone call in at least a month," said Payne. "I think it's a past issue. There's no question that ticket problems were front-page fodder for an extended period. At the time, it deflected attention away from many significant things that were being accomplished."

Now, less than seven months before the start of the Games, organizers say there are more than 540,000 tickets remaining for events, although speed skating in the Games' first indoor facility is sold out, as are finals in figure skating and hockey. None of the U.S. team's games in the preliminary round are available, either.

Said Payne, "We still think if people come, they will be able to take part in the Olympic experience. Of course, sitting in the speed skating oval watching Gaetan Boucher {the great Canadian skater who won two gold medals in Sarajevo} streak around the oval is a wonderful experience. But there are other experiences, as well. The skiing will be spectacular and there are so many other events in conjunction with the Games. I don't want to oversell that, but I don't think people will be disappointed, even if they can't see the so-called glamor events."

Certainly the scenery is there, not so much in the downtown venues for the skating events, bobsled and luge, and ski jumping, but 65 miles to the west, where Olympic skiing slopes have been carved from virgin territory on Mount Allan, and another 15 miles toward Banff, where the Cranmore Nordic Center is located for cross-country skiing and biathlon.

The drive to those venues, both less than 90 minutes from downtown Calgary, is nothing less than breathtaking, with crystalline lakes, babbling brooks and towering peaks around every bend in the road. Eventually, these facilities will be open to the public, yet another legacy of the Games.

Organizers insist that visitors will have no trouble getting to any venues, in or out of town. Tickets to events in Calgary include the price of public transportation. For the out-of-town sites, ticket holders will be able to board reasonably priced buses to the mountains. The four-lane Trans-Canada Highway leads directly to both mountain venues, and the massive traffic jams and bus snafus on ill-equipped one-lane roads that made the Lake Placid Games such a logistical nightmare are not expected to occur. No Ripping Off Visitors

Calgarians say there will be none of the price-gouging that took place in upstate New York, either. Hotels and restaurants have been told they may not raise rates more than 10 percent over their normal prices, and with more than 100,000 visitors a day expected, business should boom for everyone.

"I think people realize that if they rip visitors off, they'll ruin the legacy," said France. "We want people to come back, and once they see this place, there's no way they won't come back."

Even now, all the best hotels are booked, either by the IOC, corporate or media interests, and most of the rest have no vacancies, either. However, many private citizens are opening up their homes to visitors at mostly modest fees, and some residents are planning to move out of town while renting their homes to big spenders for the duration of the Games.

Clearly, the Olympics have come to Western Canada at a most opportune time. Calgary, which hosts the annual Stampede, a week-long fraternity party/rodeo in July, is an oil, natural gas and agricultural center, and the city is just now beginning to come out of a recession caused by slumping oil and gas prices over the last few years. In fact, many construction jobs on Olympic-related projects were filled with laid-off oil workers and that helped ease the city's 12 percent unemployment rate of last winter.

"To be truthful," said Payne, "we think everything is under control. Of course, I'm supposed to say that, but in this case, I think almost anyone around will tell you the same thing. The venues are virtually completed, the ticket problems are behind us and people around town are starting to get excited." Added France: "Our only worry now is snow."