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Winter Classic Forecast: Too Early To Tell Yet

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But just in case there is inclement weather, the NHL has a backup plan for that.

2020 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic - Rink Build Out Photo by Sam Hodde/NHLI via Getty Images

The 2020 Winter Classic at the Cotton Bowl featuring the Dallas Stars and Nashville Predators is officially less than a week away, with Christmas now behind us. As fans begin to plan their day out, whether that’s tailgating in the approved lots now or deciding when to get to Fair Park to take advantage of the Truly Hard Seltzer NHL Pregame and Midway games, eyes are naturally drawn to the weather forecast.

That has some fans in a bit of a panic as of now, because some models are predicting rain all day in Dallas on New Year’s Day. Such as Weather.com, as shown below:

Here’s the thing about weather forecasts this far in advance: they’re unpredictable. When you combine that with the unpredictable nature of Texas weather in general, it makes it hard to figure out whether to believe these models. (Texans experience that on a regular basis. Such as when you go to work and it’s 70 degrees outside, and by the time you’re leaving the office it’s 25 degrees outside — something you didn’t see when you checked the weather a few days before.)

Here is a prime example of the wide variability weather forecasts have this far in advance. The screenshot predicts rain with a 90% probability, whereas this morning, we showed it at 40% in the screenshot up above.

So, the best time to figure out what the weather will be like for the Winter Classic with any sort of reliability will be Sunday at the earliest.

If there happens to be rain, or the weather conditions (such as sun reflection on the ice) make the game hard to put on at the current scheduled time of 1 PM puck drop, the NHL has a few alternatives.

Steve Mayer, the NHL’s Chief Content Officer, is the head of the league’s marquee events, such as the Winter Classic. On Monday, he gave us an update on the rink build and answered a few burning questions, such as what happens with inclement weather.

One option to combat inclement weather is to alter the puck drop time. This is not without precedent, as the Winter Classic in 2011 in Pittsburgh was delayed until the evening due to rain and in 2012 in Philadelphia it was delayed two hours due to glare from the sun. The worst-case scenario would be to try again on January 2nd, something that neither the fans (nor the league, presumably) would want to see.

Every effort will be made to put the game on as scheduled on New Year’s Day. However, communication of changes is key. There could be announcements made in the Midway, and there’s likely to be big social media announcements if the start time is delayed. We’ll let you know as we know what, if any, implications there could be on the start time.

So stay tuned as the day gets closer, set an alert to our tweets on Twitter, and/or check regularly for new posts here on Defending Big D to keep your Winter Classic festivities informed.