Historically, Feb. 2 is snow big deal.
While there's certainly a good chance the next Feb. 2, Super Bowl Sunday, will be breezy and below freezing, if weather history is our guide, there's nearly a 75 percent probability it won't be raining or snowing come game time. With this year's game to be played at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., it's the first time the Super Bowl will kick off in a cold-weather state in a venue open to the elements.
Based on data for that day going back to 1949 for nearby Newark, N.J., there's a 3 in 10 chance for precipitation and a 1 in 10 chance for snowfall during the game, said David A. Robinson, the New Jersey state climatologist. And, 3.4 inches of snow -- which fell in 1985 -- is the highest snowfall amount for the day, according to records going back to 1931.
Still, Robinson is quick to point out that his "climatological odds" are not a forecast, based on real-time data.
Long-term forecasting models and other factors more than two weeks before the game indicate the possibility for a system bringing frigid cold and snow to the eastern United States on the Friday into Saturday before Super Bowl Sunday, said Paul Pastelok, lead long-range forecaster for AccuWeather Inc.
Game day, as of Thursday, looks to be precipitation free, with temperatures possibly climbing to the mid-30s, he said. While his confidence level is low to moderate so early, he said that various factors are "consistent to show something wants to rotate though the eastern U.S. that Friday and Saturday."
Historically speaking, and based on data going back to 1931, there's about a 6 in 10 chance for freezing temperatures during the game, said Robinson, who relishes the chance to address this "great merger of sports and climate."
Early last fall he worked with a technical assistant to create Rutgers University's BigGameWeather.com, a "one stop shop" for historical weather information for Feb. 2 and the days leading up to it. It includes kickoff time temperatures and probabilities.
For the wagering crowd, one online sports gambling site said it has set the over/under on the temperature at the 6:25 p.m. kickoff at 32 degrees, meaning gamblers can bet the real temperature will be over or under that point on the thermometer.
Consistent with AccuWeather's prediction, there's an increased likelihood for below average temperatures in the Northeast in the Jan. 29 through Feb. 7 period, said Nick Troiano, lead long-range meteorologist with Hackettstown, N.J-based WeatherWorks LLC., a consulting firm that includes MetLife Stadium as a client. The average temperature in that time period is right around the freezing mark.
Troiano said models for that time frame indicate at least a 30 percent to 40 percent chance "for several quick moving disturbances to bring minor to moderate snow events to the region, mainly ranging from 2 to 4 inches depending on the exact track."
The National Football League started receiving monitoring reports from meteorological firms with which it works on Jan. 2 when it moved into the stadium and started setting up compounds for security, media and planning, said Brian McCarthy, spokesman.
The league is "embracing the weather," he said, noting that the potential for snow at some point during play is "part of the allure of having the game here."