Super Bowl Weather: From Blackout to Whiteout?

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Last year’s Super Bowl in New Orleans plunged into darkness as it experienced a 34-minute blackout. That power failure left players and fans confused as the game was stopped in the third quarter. Millions of viewers in their homes fumbled for the remote as the screens of their TVs, computers, and mobile gadget turned black. It was definitely one of the lows of last year’s game host CBS. This year, the game committee president Al Kelly said people are speculating that there will be snow during the game on February 2, 2013 at the MetLife Stadium, New Jersey. This would ironically mean that the game might go from blackout to whiteout. 

According to predictions of the Farmer’s Almanac heavy storms may move into the area during the Super Bowl 2014 game February 2. The fans that would go to the stadium may be in a winter wonderland. While over a hundred million people might be watching the game in the comforts of their homes during this season. Rarely, there are instances of severe weather during Super Bowl games and the coldest was the January 1972 game in New Orleans at the Tulane Stadium when the temperature went up to 39 degrees. That was the game when Dallas beat Miami. Another game played under heavy weather was when Indianapolis beats Chicago at the big game in Miami just seven years ago while a heavy rainstorm was pouring.

The Snowy Weather Makes the Game Unforgettable

Having snow during a football game means it would only get more fascinating. Heavy weather challenges the players even more, and pro athletes get motivated by challenges. The players would find it hard to perform some of the plays and difficult tasks during the game, which would make the game more interesting.   

A simple game would test the skills of the player and that would be fun to watch. However, a snowy game would be unforgettable, as players don’t just battle each other, but they have to handle the elements as well. According to Philadelphia Eagles’ tight end Brent Celek, there is a certain mystique in playing the game in the snow.

The Philadelphia – Detroit game last Sunday December 8 in Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia had the players looking like shadowy figures in the blizzard. The 34-20 game in favor of the Eagles had the Lions fumbling seven times. That is how exciting the game can turn out with snow. That game reminds everyone how challenging and goofy the game would be with snow. Celek recounts that he has seen some of the most hilarious things during that game, where players would run down on kick-off, everyone would fall with just one little cut as a player runs a straight line.

Preparations are the Same with Other Stadiums Open to Elements

What happened at the game in Philadelphia last Sunday may happen in the 2014 Super Bowl on February 2. Snow is more likely to happen since East Rutherford’s average temperatures on Feb 2 would range from 20 to 38 degrees. There are some football fields with that have heated elements under it. MetLife Stadium, however, does not have any heating elements for its playing surface. 

According to NFL’s senior vice president of events Frank Supovitz, there will be a high standard for the preparation and maintenance of the field. Snows that are falling on the field must be cleared from each ten-yard line. Snow must be cleared from the sidelines too. Supovitz said, preparing for the snow and maintaining it for the big game is just the same as any given Sunday with Stadiums open to various natural elements, and that they just have to be ready for it.

There are certain NFL rules that must be followed in cleaning up and maintaining the snow in the football field during the Super Bowl, should there be a snowy weather on that day. The rules allow the cleaning of end lines, goal lines, and sidelines. The 10, 20, 30 or each ten yard intervals can also be cleared. It is not allowed, however, to use any kind of equipment to clean up the space for a field goal or any extra point. Players, however, are allowed to clear snow with their hands of feet during those situations. Celek actually found it funny when players during the Philadelphia game would kick the snow like cattle at each other to distract the opposing players. If the snow becomes very hazardous, making it impossible to play, they can always move the game an hour more or a day more.

Contingencies for the Blackout

According to last year’s Super Bowl power supplier Entergy New Orleans, they had a device called relay that protects the stadium from any cable failure between the power lines from outside to the lines bringing power in the stadium. Entergy New Orleans said relay caused the blackout. This is another ironic story that the cause of last year’s 34-minute blackout was caused by the very device that was supposed to prevent it. Retired Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, however, believes it was no accident and that it was a ploy to let the 49ers regroup. There are no proofs of this claim though.

To make sure that another power failure will not happen in the 2014 Super Bowl on Feb 2, NFL and the game committee have prioritized this issue in preparing for the Super Bowl 2014. Security experts, network engineers and various consultants are double checking each equipment and technicalities of the Meadowlands Sports Complex, where MetLife Stadium is. They are making sure that every switch, circuit breakers, transformers, power lines and substations in that area will be working properly. Tree branches are being trimmed, telephone poles are being bolstered, and tests have been done to secure power lines overhead. Simulations of the real game are also being conducted to see if everything would work efficiently and properly. Consultants from all over the country are analyzing the local power provider, the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, the host committee, the PSE&G and the league as a whole.


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