Think back over your years watching the Big Game between to the two best teams in the National Football League - do you ever remember the weather playing a role in the game? The Southeast Regional Climate Center compiled a list of game and weather information going all the way back to the very first game. You can click here to see it if you're curious about a particular game, but we will share some of the highlights here.
First a few fast facts for you. Even though the majority of the games have been played outside in the middle of winter, there have only been three years with snow on game day (1982, 2006, 2018). In fact the coldest weather players have had to endure was a temperature of 43º during an outdoor game in 1972. It was actually only 39º at kick off! In 2018 at the game in Minnesota, the temperature was 9º at midnight, dropped to 2º at kickoff (with a wind chill of -14º) but was played inside at U.S. Bank Stadium.
There have been a couple of games (1973 and 2003) with a temperature of 82º, the warmest for a playing of the Big Game. Wind has been one of the more prevalent weather features: high wind gusts were recorded in 1980, 1984, 1989, 2007, and 2016. Now here are some of the games that might stand out in your memory:
2000: The St. Louis Rams were taking on the Tennessee Titans in the old Georgia Dome where the temperature was a mild 72º. Outside in Atlanta, Georgia, the temperature was 34º, and an ice storm was bearing down on the city. 1/4" to 1/2" of ice accumulated that day, which may not sound like a lot, but remember where we are. Georgia doesn't have quite as many resources to fight ice as we do this far north.
2006: This is the snowiest game day we've ever seen for this annual tradition. 1.1" of snow was measured in Detroit, Michigan, on the day the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Seattle Seahawks. This game was also played indoors where the temperature was a comfortable 68º at Ford Field but only 30º outside.
2011: The game was played in Arlington, Texas, at Cowboys Stadium, which should have ensured no risk of winter weather. Wrong. A winter storm brought snow to the DFW area the week before the game. In fact, two days before the game, snow fell from the roof of Cowboys stadium injuring six people! The game between the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers was played as scheduled with light rain and a game time temperature in the low 50s.
2013: This is the only time there has been a significant delay to the game, but it wasn't caused by weather. The Baltimore Ravens were taking on the San Francisco 49ers in New Orleans. A power outage in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome caused a 34 minute delay to start the 3rd quarter.
At this point the Big Game has never been delayed (or canceled) because of weather, but a recent change may be tempting fate. The NFL had a "warm-climate" policy that the location of the host stadium had to have an average temperature of 50ºF (or higher) for game day unless the game was played in a dome (or facility with a retractable roof). It seems that policy was relaxed or eliminated between 2010 and 2014 because in 2014 the game was played outdoors in New Jersey.
Though changes have not been needed to due weather, there is a contingency plan. If the game absolutely could not be played Sunday afternoon as scheduled (because of weather), it would either be moved earlier (Friday or Saturday) or later (Monday or Tuesday) that same weekend to avoid whatever is producing the weather on Sunday.
The forecast for Sunday in Miami, Florida, is clear and breezy with temperatures in the 60s for most of the day.