Super Bowl XLVIII will be the first NFL championship game played outdoors at a cold-weather location. Looking back at the history of previous sites for the event, much milder weather than what will likely be seen at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey this year has been the rule.
Over the past 47 Super Bowl’s, the average on-field temperature at kickoff has been 66.5 degrees. The contests that have been played at northern latitudes have previously been in domed stadiums helping to keep that average up. That is a luxury the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks won’t enjoy.
According to the NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame, the coldest championship was Super Bowl VI on January 16, 1972. Played at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans, the temperatures at kickoff between the Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins was a chilly 39 degrees on the field.
Technically however, the game has been played at a colder location.
Super Bowl XVI was played at the Pontiac Silverdome in Detroit, Michigan on January 24, 1982 and saw the coldest outdoor temperature of any Super Bowl Sunday.
The high temperature in the Motor City that day was a bone-chilling 16 degrees and 0.3 inches of snow was recorded. The San Francisco 49ers and Cincinnati Bengals and their fans did not have to worry however as it was played in a domed stadium.
At the other end of the temperature spectrum, temperatures at the game are usually much milder due to their traditionally more southern locations.
Sunny Los Angeles, California hosted the warmest Super Bowl in history on January 14, 1973. The temperature at kickoff between the Miami Dolphins and Washington Redskins was a toasty 84 degrees.
The snowiest Super Bowl occurred in Detroit on the day of Super Bowl XL between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Seattle Seahawks. A total of 1.1 inches of snowfall was recorded but inside the domed Ford Field, it was 68 degrees and dry.
Snow has in fact never fallen on a field the Super Bowl was played on. Rain however has occurred in 17 of the previous contests.
The wettest occurred on February 4, 2007 when the Indianapolis Colts defeated the Chicago Bears at Dolphin Stadium in Miami Florida. A total of 1.1 inches of rain was recorded for Super Bowl XLI.
What weather awaits Peyton Manning, Russell Wilson and the rest of the Broncos and Seahawks is yet to be seen and too far off to forecast. Historical averages for the New York City / Newark area would indicate this will be the coldest Super Bowl played and possibly the first with snow falling on the field.