Why It Is Going To Be So Cold For Sunday’s Chiefs – Patriots Game


Four teams remain in the National Football League playoffs. The New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams have the luxury of playing in the Superdome this weekend. However, the Kansas City Chiefs hosts the New England Patriots. The last time I checked, Arrowhead Stadium did not have a dome. Temperatures are going to be extremely cold in Kansas City this weekend. Here are the reasons why.

Maximum anomaly temperatures from January 17th to January 21stNOAA

For starters, it is January in Kansas City so it should not be breaking news that wintry weather and cold temperatures are in the forecast. According the National Weather Service, the average high temperature on January 20th in Kansas City is around 38 deg F. This weekend that will seem downright balmy. The official forecast calls for snow showers on Saturday with a high of 22 deg F. On game day Sunday, the high temperature is expected to be 16 deg F. By game time, the temperature could be closer to 10 deg F by kickoff and approaching 0 deg (or less) by the end of the game. Weathermodels.com meteorologist Ryan Maue tweeted on January 14th,

AFC Championship game is in Kansas City –> Sunday evening. #ChiefsKingdom(-3.0) #Patriots 6-day weather forecasts are BRUTALLY cold — and I mean very COLD. Game time temperatures from models range from -5°F to 10°F Arctic blast is centered right over Arrowhead Stadium

From Thursday through Monday (including game day), the National Weather Service is forecasting maximum temperatures anomalies to be 7 to 12 degrees below normal in the Kansas City region (graphic above).

Expected temperatures in Kansas City this weekend through kickoff of the Patriots vs Chiefs AFC Championship game.NWS

Why is it going to be so cold in Kansas City on Sunday? Maue’s tweet provides a clue. The National Weather Service-Kansas City forecast discussion for January 14th explains:

Another higher confidence element of this weekend`s weather is the extreme cold air mass that is expected to move into the region in the form of a very elongated surface ridge, which will tap into a very cold Canadian
airmass and send it southward into the area. Currently models are expecting low temperatures on Sunday and Monday to be in the single digits, however these temperatures will certainly be much colder in reality if the region sees another fresh layer of snow from the Friday/Saturday system. Wind chill values on Sunday
morning could drop to as low as -15 to -25 degrees.

Surface map for Sunday January 20th (Issued on January 14th).NWS

One interesting caveat is whether a passing system earlier in the weekend produces snow cover. If so, this will actually cause temperatures to be lower on Sunday. Highly reflective snow cover causes the sun’s energy to be reflected away. Some of the sun’s energy is also used to melt the snow. Both processes result in less energy available at the Earth’s surface and less warming.

So how will this game compare to some of the coldest NFL games in history? According to Sports Illustrated, the “Ice Bowl” at Lambeau Field experienced -13 deg F temperatures with wind chills near -48 deg F. That game, which was played on December 31st, 1967, featured the Dallas Cowboys and the Green Bay Packers. Some analysts are speculating that Sunday’s game could rival the coldest game played at Arrowhead Stadium. NFL analyst Adam Schefter tweeted,

…Temperatures at kickoff could range from 10 degrees to well below zero, making it the coldest game in Arrowhead Stadium history.

To date, the coldest games at Arrowhead were against the Titans (2016) and Broncos (1983), respectively. For both games, the temperature was 1 degree at kickoff according to the Arrowheadpride.com website. 

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