Climate MattersJanuary 29, 2014

Superbowl XLVIII & Groundhog Day

Set 3 - Superbowl XLVIII & Groundhog Day
Set 3
Set 2 - Superbowl XLVIII & Groundhog Day
Set 2
Set 1 - Superbowl XLVIII & Groundhog Day

We’re a few days away from the kick off of the first Super Bowl played outdoors in a cold-weather city. But East Rutherford, New Jersey isn’t the coldest locale that could host a Super Bowl. Here are some of the coldest NFL cities along with some historical snowfall facts to share with your viewers in the run up to Super Bowl Sunday.

Coldest Super Bowl Ever?

The average high temperature for the first week of February in East Rutherford, where MetLife Stadium is located, is 39.6°F, but MetLife doesn’t even crack the top five coldest stadiums in the NFL. The home fields of the Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns, Chicago Bears, and the New England Patriots are all colder than MetLife Stadium. Green Bay's Lambeau Field, nicknamed "The Frozen Tundra," takes the honor of the coldest stadium in the NFL. The average high there during the first week of February (when the Super Bowl has been played since 2004) is only 25.6°F.

At 43°F, the coldest Super Bowl on record was Super Bowl VI which was played outdoors in New Orleans' Tulane Stadium in 1972. Temperatures did drop during that game, and the overnight low hit 24°F. Ironically, the hottest game-day high was recorded the next year. Super Bowl VII was played in the Los Angeles Coliseum where the daytime high was 82°F. That record was tied again in 2003 in another Southern California locale, San Diego.

Snow-free Streak Continues

The fact that outdoor Super Bowls usually happen in a balmy climate means snow has never graced the field at game time. With no flakes in the forecast for Sunday, it looks like that streak will continue. We calculated a combined temperature and snowfall index for the first week of February. It turns out Buffalo tops the list of NFL's coldest and snowiest cities. Green Bay comes in second, and East Rutherford is all the way down at number 8 on that list.

We also took a look at the biggest one-day snowfall totals ever recorded at the station closest to all NFL stadiums during the same time frame. The biggest one-day snow amount was 29.3" from 1978 in Patriots land – Foxborough, MA. Philadelphia and Baltimore follow with 21.9" and 16" respectively, which fell during the winter of 2010.

If It Comes Down To A Field Goal

Talking about weather records and climate data is interesting, but can the weather actually affect the outcome of a game? According to an analysis from MIT, the answer is "yes." When the mercury dips below 50°F, kickers’ accuracy takes a dive, too. Cold weather has more of a chilling effect on kickers than “icing” them by taking timeout before the kick, or the two other weather factors – precipitation and wind. The only factor that has a greater impact on field goal success rates than temperature? Altitude, which shouldn't be a factor since East Rutherford sits just 7 feet above sea level.