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How the NFL Creates a Seamless Fan Experience with Weather Intelligence

61 mph.

That’s how fast quarterback Tom Brady can throw a football.

Trying to catch one of those passes — while dodging defensive players and at a full-on sprint — is something many NFL spectators take for granted. Doing it under more serious weather conditions like rain, snow, heat, or altitude? That’s where the greatest players show themselves.

Stephanie Durante, VP of Operations at the NFL, has to coordinate thousands of people on game day. But even she can’t change the weather. 

“Our core responsibility is to manage the integrity of the game. This is my 14th season, and we’ve always been constantly monitoring the weather to make sure game day goes smoothly.”

How Weather Impacts Football Games

For the athletes, the weather is all part of the game. Temperature changes can affect muscle performance, recovery time, and ability to grip and catch the ball, while precipitation can change field conditions and speed.

But there’s more that goes into managing weather than just the players. 

“Being in game operations means you need to play meteorologist on some level. There’s a lot happening on any given day and we need to stay up to speed. We’re taking a look at where the weather could have an impact, whether it be lightning, significant rain, hazardous wind, or air quality, and then working with our clubs to talk through what needs to be done.”

Weather can impact:

  • Game times or delays
  • Soil saturation and turf management with field tarps
  • Opening and closing retractable roofs for stadium domes
  • Preventing athlete injury from slippery or cold weather conditions
  • Monitoring hazardous conditions, like air quality or lightning

The entire league has to adapt to the weather on a week-to-week basis, whether that’s for teams practicing in different climates to film crews and stadium ground teams protecting their staff and equipment.

Preparing for Anything with Tomorrow

Durante and her team use Tomorrow to deliver up-to-the-minute insights about the weather across the country. Working remotely to coordinate hundreds of games in hundreds of stadiums from their New York office, Tomorrow’s comprehensive dashboard gives them a complete picture of what to expect — and what decisions they need to make.

“We look at it from a week-to-week perspective so we can see each of the stadiums that are hosting a game on any given week and see where we might see rain, where there could be lightning or air quality, for example, and what those alerts would be for each of those locations. We can look at the NFL as a whole so we manipulate the dashboard to fit our needs.”

With Tomorrow.io’s platform, they can go beyond obsessing over daily forecasts and start to think predictively about common situations that might arise — and how best to prepare facilities, teams, and staff. 

“We have this ability to look at the data with more confidence. Any decisions we make, we can back up with data. Not just for ourselves, but to provide the right information to the right people to make sure we’re all on the same page about the game.”

Learn More About the NFL and Tomorrow.io

Want to hear more from Stephanie? Watch her full session from the ClimaCon 2021 Keynote now:

 

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