It’s easy to imagine members of the Super Bowl Planning Committee staring out the window today and asking themselves the question “What if?”
What if a snowstorm didn’t show up on forecasters’ radar until just a few days before it hit? What if it dropped more than a foot of snow on East Rutherford at the worst possible time? What if it was coupled by wind chills of minus 15 and blizzard-like conditions, exposing players and spectators to potentially dangerous conditions for hours?
“I keep hearing on the radio, when they talk about it, saying the ‘Super Bowl scheduled for Feb. 2,’ and I’ve found that interesting. I’m not sure under what circumstances they would cancel the game,” said Sam Dealba, a meteorologist at Hackettstown-based WeatherWorks. “A sneaky storm like this might be a worst case scenario for them. It would be coming at pretty much the worst time possible.”
The National Football League has said it has contingency plans that include postponing the game if absolutely necessary. But the league has also put together an extremely robust plan to counter anything the elements have to throw at them, with a spokesman once telling The Star-Ledger “our contingency plans have contingency plans.”
Still, forecasters couldn’t predict the blizzard in December that turned a regular-season game between the Eagles and Lions into one of the most memorable games of the season.
And, yesterday’s storm was problematic for forecasters, as well. As recently as last weekend, most forecast models kept the storm off shore, with little to no impact on New Jersey. By Monday, things were looking starkly different. First, four to seven inches was possible. Then six to 10. Then maybe a foot or more.
The storm even started several hours earlier than anticipated, virtually crippling transit as tens of thousands took to the roads in an attempt to get home early, creating marathon, white-knuckle commutes. Hundreds of flights were canceled or delayed, NJ Transit’s website went down for hours and trains were delayed on multiple rail lines.
“I think there’s going to be concern for any weather event that (Super Bowl) week,” said David Robinson, the state climatologist at Rutgers University. “I think this is kind of what they dread.”
Read more at the Star Ledger.