Climatology 101: Super Bowl Sunday

Mother Nature must be a football fan.

For the most part, weather hasn’t interfered with the NFL’s biggest stage. While the vast majority of games feature atmospheric perfection, some Super Bowls haven’t been as lucky. Below is a brief history in Super Bowl weather, made possible by William Schimtz’s terrific climate report.


Courtesy: NFL
Courtesy: NFL

Super Bowl VII and Super Bowl XXXVII featured warm temperature in Los Angeles and San Diego, respectively. Perhaps the heat got to Miami Dolphins kicker Garo Yepremian in Super Bowl VII. His botched pass nearly derailed the only perfect season in NFL history.

Courtesy: Earl Cryer UPI
Courtesy: Earl Cryer UPI

30 years later, the warmth wilted the Oakland Raiders offense. Tampa Bay rolled to an easy victory at Qualcomm Stadium, highlighted by a pair of Dexter Jackson’s pick sixes.


Courtesy: AP
Courtesy: AP

Before the SuperDome, New Orleans hosted three Super Bowls at Tulane Stadium. Super Bowl VI between the Miami Dolphins and Dallas Cowboys registered the coldest high temperature for an outdoor venue. Sure, it could have been worse than 43°. But it probably felt more like 3° for the team from Florida. Dallas destroyed the Dolphins 24-3.


Courtesy: AP Photo Paul Spinelli
Courtesy: AP Photo Paul Spinelli

Super Bowl XLI in Miami may have been impacted the most by weather. The Colts and Bears played in a gullywasher, with sheets of rain coming down during the second half. Peyton Manning accepted the first water-logged Lombardi Trophy in league history.

How rare is rain on Super Bowl Sunday? Only 11 times has the closest reporting station to a non-domed stadium recorded rainfall. The odds boil down to a mere 22%.


Courtesy: AP Photo Vernon Biever
Courtesy: AP Photo Vernon Biever

The Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California is notoriously breezy. It resides along Arroyo Seco and is in close proximity to the San Gabriel Mountains. In Super Bowl XIV, the Los Angeles Rams and Pittsburgh Steelers encountered gusty northeast winds that could have impacted the passing game.

On this Sunday in 1980, it didn’t. Steelers QB Terry Bradshaw & Rams QB Vince Ferragamo combined for big plays through the air. The game changer was a 73 yard touchdown pass from Bradshaw to John Stallworth in the 4th quarter. Pittsburgh captured its four Super Bowl, beating the hometown Rams 31-19.


18 of 51 Bowls Played indoors (35%)
20 of 51 Bowls had a Trace or More of Rain at nearby AP (41%)
2 Bowls had Snow on Game Day (1982,2006)
1 Bowl played during an Ice Storm (2000)
Coldest High Temp for Dome Game 16° (1982, but likely to be eclipsed in 2018)


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