The Farmer’s Almanac made the prediction that we would see a blizzard on Super Bowl Sunday this year in MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ. It might arguably be one of the most talked about weather forecasts we’ve ever had.
There’s really nothing bigger in the United States than the Super Bowl. It’s must see TV even for people who don’t watch or like football. Whether it be the commercials, the half-time show, or the game itself, the Super Bowl is a massive consumer-driven event that makes millions if not billions of dollars.
But what are the odds really for snow in this year’s Super Bowl?
Using statistical data, in the past 82 years on February 2nd, measurable snow has been recorded 15 times with the heaviest being 3.4 inches in 1985. Statistical Odds
So there’s about an 18-20 percent chance of seeing measurable snow for this year’s Super Bowl. Those odds are pretty good I think and February has proven itself to be a snowy month in past history. The Snowmaggeddon of February 2010 unleashed boatloads of snow in the month of February for those in the northern Mid-Atlantic states including New Jersey. Other notorious February snowstorms included the blizzard of 2006, and the St. Valentine’s day storm of 2007.
So what’s the problem….
Despite the Farmer’s Almanac claiming an 80-85 percent accuracy rate, it’s incredibly difficult to predict weather more than a week out. For weather systems or storms, it’s difficult to predict more than a couple days out, especially when you’re talking snowstorms.
Using the term “blizzard” is even more anomalous under the terms of the National Weather Service (NWS glossary). However, it’s difficult to just go off of past data to determine whether it will snow or not. The biggest snowfall on that date was 3.4 inches, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be more than that this year on that date or less/nothing.
Is the Controversy of this year’s Super Bowl location relevant?
Does this topic have a right to be discussed by sports journalists, reporters, and analysts on ESPN and other stations or on radio? Sure, why not? It gives them something to talk about, and it creates further interest about the Super Bowl. There are fans who would love to see the teams play in a blizzard, but there are others who strongly oppose it.
There are worries about contingency plans if there were to be a major snowstorm and about moving the date of the Super Bowl. There are worries about giving one team an advantage and one a disadvantage especially if it’s a “cold weather” team versus a “warmer weather” team. There would be a good chance that cold and snow would favor the former rather than the latter. Of course, that still depends on if it will snow or not.
Impacts on Fans, Half-Time Show?
The traffic is going to be insane when the weather is calm, never-mind when there’s a snowstorm in progress. The New Jersey-New York metropolitan area is the most densely populated area in the country and weather often creates major traffic jams and accidents. A snowstorm would definitely make things much worse than they would be otherwise.
The other impact would be the Half-Time show. I’d imagine it would be nearly impossible to perform during a raging blizzard, but I’d also imagine either the show would be postponed or other contingency plans would be put forth.
The Weather Pattern
It’s what you would look at to increase your forecasting odds on a certain day. I wouldn’t go off of Accuweather’s 45 day forecast, but rather look at the pattern as a whole. Seasonal patterns are your best bet at long term forecast predictions because they provide an outline/blueprint of what may or may not happen.
I’m not going to go into indices and specific model data, but rather just explain the general gist of seasonal forecasting. In the winters of 2001-2002 and 2011-2012 it was rather easy to determine that those patterns would prove warm and relatively snowless compared to the winters of 2009-2010 and 2010-2011. As early as October, meteorologists can define a blueprint into what the pattern for winter will turn out, though it’s far from perfect.
Upper air patterns and a few specific key players are what determine a winter forecast (the most variable/difficult season to predict). So far this season, with the record cold and above average snow in the eastern half of the U.S., there are perhaps greater than normal odds at seeing snow on Super Bowl Sunday.
The Final Verdict
Has the location change of the Super Bowl doomed Super Bowl Sunday? The answer is much like the forecast, unclear. Going off of past data, I’d say you’d have a much better chance of seeing no snow than snow with a near average temperature range of mid 30s to mid 40s (average high being 42).
Backup plans should obviously be in place just in case, and I can’t say whether the change in location is a good or bad idea. I know it’s a good idea in terms of the market, economic value, creating immense public interest, and more, but we’ll just have to see how the weather like the game plays out.
I do feel that if the Super Bowl will be played in more northern locations that perhaps a retractable roof can be created as a precaution. It’s one thing to have regular season or even play-off games being played in adverse conditions, but the Super Bowl is a major event and thus should be treated like one.