For hockey players who first learned the game on frozen ponds, the Winter Classic is a throwback to their youth. On January 1st, the NHL’s signature game will invade Nationals Park to pay homage to that tradition. But one of the major story lines heading into New Year’s day won’t be hockey; it’ll be about weather.
“It maybe snow, maybe it’s gonna be rain,” Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin recently said of Washington D.C.’s unpredictable climate. “You never know what the weather’s going to be.”
If you’ve seen NBC’s most recent Winter Classic commercial, there’s no doubt what kind of forecast they’re hoping for. As CGI’d snow falls around Washington’s historic landmarks, the clip announces, “hockey returns outdoors.” Barack Obama crows in the background, “let us brave once more the icy currents and endure what storms may come.”
The mere chance of snow excites fans. If the sky spits just a little that day, it could provide bigger ratings and better visuals both for NBC and a league eager to reach new fans. The weather will have a major impact on the playing surface as well. A long stretch pass from the defensive zone just won’t make it if the ice sheet is blanketed with snow… or puddles.
With all that on the line, one of the most interested bystanders will be emerging-star weekend meteorologist for NBC Washington, Amelia Segal. And for good reason. Not only does she love weather, she’s also from this area and loves the sport.