Every February 2nd, a groundhog emerges from hibernation in Pennsylvania to much media uproar, theoretically looks for his shadow, and decides whether to crawl back in his hole for six more weeks of winter or stay out, thus forecasting an early spring.
This year the little fellow has to share the spotlight with a sporting event – the Super Bowl XLVIII. What kind of weather will Punxsutawney Phil see, and will sharing the spotlight with a football game affect his behavior?
The NFL Scheduled Super Bowl XLVIII in an Outdoor Stadium in New York
When the NFL decided to play the 2014 Super Bowl in a northern open-air stadium, they were aware of the possibilities. Conditions for the game will turn out to be not as bad as they knew were possible, but not as good as they probably hoped.
The Weather This Winter in New York
Under the spell of the polar vortex, the entire northeastern United States has had a cold winter, with periods of heavy snow and ice. The league made contingency plans to move the date of the game in the event of inclement weather, but barring a Sandy-type event, there was never a remote chance that kickoff would be any other time than 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, February 2.
Super Bowl XLVIII: The Weather at Game Time
Forecasts for several days in the future are necessarily couched in cautionary terms. But it is now clear that Sunday will not be terribly cold, nor will there be a howling wind, nor will there be heavy precipitation. What more could we ask for?
The temperature at game time should be right around forty degrees — slightly above normal for the date. There is a chance of showers, but any precipitation will be light. Winds will be light to moderate. In short, there is nothing to keep this from being a normal game. Nevertheless, the weather will affect the play to some extent.
What Will the Footing Be Like on the Super Bowl Field?
Modern football cleats come in many different models designed to meet almost any need. The players will use the best type of cleat for the conditions. Any advantage, should the field be a little sloppy due to light precipitation, would be with the pass receivers, who know where they want to go, while the defenders don’t. One slip by a cornerback can result in a touchdown.
Super Bowl 2014: How Will the Weather Affect the Kicking Game?
Denver plays in the thin air of Mile High Stadium, where the ball carries about ten yards farther than in any other outdoor stadium. Seattle plays outdoors at sea level, and will be somewhat more accustomed to the conditions. Cold weather makes the ball harder, with less bounce off the kicker’s foot. The net result is that kicks may be a little shorter than normal, but that shouldn’t affect the game. Place-kickers typically practice on the field before the game, and they will know the maximum range for their field goal attempts.
This Year’s Super Bowl: What Will the Wind Be Like?
With a relatively weak pressure gradient expected to dominate the area, winds should be no more than moderate. This will help the better passer – some think this is Peyton Manning, but Russell Wilson is pretty good too.
What Does Punxsutawney Phil think?
The famous groundhog, whose spotlight is being diverted by a game he doesn’t understand, may be in a foul mood when he comes out for a look-see. My prediction: Phil will forget to look for his shadow and will watch the game instead, then repeatedly crawl in and out of his hole, confounding the weather forecasters. And oh yes, the game: Denver 23, Seattle 13.