Impact of weather on the Winter Classic

Two years ago during the NHL's first Winter Classic experiment in Buffalo, light snow sprinkled down on Ralph Wilson Stadium, creating a picturesque snow globe effect as millions watched on national television. Last year in Chicago, there wasn't any snow, but the weather cooperated just fine and they got the game in.

One of these years, it's not going to work out so well. Could we have a problem this year?

Here's what the forecast looks like for Thursday, Friday and Saturday, according to weather.com.

Classic-weather-forecast_medium

Snow would be an annoyance, but it would still be manageable. The Zamboni would have to come out several times during the game, as it did in Buffalo two years ago, to sweep away the excess. Obviously, though, if the snow is falling faster than the Zamboni can handle, you've got a problem and you'd have to let the snow pass similar to a rain delay in baseball. That much precipitation isn't expected, though.

Still, we could have a problem if the rain part of the forecast comes true. If it drizzles on game day, the rink can handle it, as light rain would simply freeze over quickly on the ice surface. But anything beyond a drizzle, really, would be a severe problem as the rain wouldn't freeze on the ice fast enough. Puddling would occur and you a) can't play in puddles and b) can't get rid of those puddles.

In any case, those overseeing the event for the NHL aren't concerned. At least not yet, anyway.

Don Renzulli, the NHL's senior vice president of events and entertainment, doesn't think you can worry too much with four days still left until game day.

"[The forecast] changes daily," Renzulli said Monday. "Yesterday we were expecting one to two inches today. That didn't happen. We were expecting a 50 percent chance of snow on game day, and now it's looking like rain and about 37 [degrees]. I guess I'm used to just waiting a day or so because it will change. We will see what happens, and we will adjust to it in the next couple of days and through the nights."

Still, as facilities manager Dan Craig said earlier today, weather is still a lead topic in daily meetings at Fenway as they take the necessary preparations. The ice is holding up despite rain in the Boston area over the last two days.

"It's wet," Craig said. "We are in good shape as of yet. We had solid rain [Sunday]. It took us probably an extra four hours to set up last night. [The ice surface was] solid by 6:00, so we are anticipating about the same thing today."

The anticipation was correct. Late into the afternoon today, the crew was able to paint the lines and logos onto the surface, making the rink look more and more like it's ready for a regular season NHL game. Craig, Renzulli and company will no doubt grow a few gray hairs over the next few days while keeping track of the weather reports.

If the weather does in fact make the game unplayable on Friday, it will be pushed back to Saturday.

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