Monday, August 31, 2015

Postseason baseball gambles with nature

Playing into November is a huge weather risk.

Postseason baseball gambles with nature


Breezes blowing in from left field at Citizens Bank Park may have some effect on hitters this week. But before this is all over, winds howling at 100-plus m.p.h. in the upper atmopshere may also come into play in baseball's postseason.

Major League Baseball now has Game 7 of the World Series scheduled for Nov. 4, and it is highly possible that the tournament venue will be Philadelphia and-or New York.

Recall the powerful storm that in 2008 that resulted in the two-part deciding game of that World Series. The weather savvy were surprised -- surprised that major storms didn't interrupt the World Series more often.

As the playoffs get under way, the atmosphere is transition. The showery rains of the warm seasons are about to give way to more-organized storms. The sun's power is waning, and as the northern hemisphere cools, the temperature contrasts that drive storms sharpen. That incites the powerful jet-stream winds in the high atmosphere that set off storms and move them around the planet.

As it gets cooler, the jet stream frequently conspires with warm Gulf Stream waters off the Atlantic Coast to brew coastal storms --nor'easters -- such as the one that ambushed the 2008 World Series. In a 50-year sample, the Northeast Regional Climate Center, in Ithaca, N.Y., found that 49 coastal storms had formed in during Octobers.

Given that Major League Baseball teams in Philadelphia, Boston and New York -- cities highly vulnerable to nor'easters -- have been perennial postseason contenders, MLB honchos may be taunting nature by extending the season all the way through Election Day.

As Art DeGaetano, head of the Northeast Regional Climate Center, said in 2008, "They're willing to take that risk, and it bites them."

Inquirer Weather Columnist
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About this blog

Everyone talks about the weather, and here we write about it.

When we’re around and conditions warrant, we’ll keep you updated about what’s coming, but we will do our best always to discuss weather and climate developments in context and remind you that nothing in the atmosphere happens in a vacuum.

Tony Wood has been writing about the atmosphere for The Inquirer for 26 years.

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Tony Wood Inquirer Weather Columnist
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