Lightning and Sports
If I can be honest with you, I found the Coal Bowl forecast one of the most difficult of my career. You see from Monday all the way until Sunday afternoon, it was apparent that the risk of showers and thunderstorms was high in Morgantown. But when would it rain in Mountaineer country? Inquiring Marshall and WVU tailgaters wanted to know.
All the way until 2 PM on Sunday, I could not say with any definitive conviction that it would rain during the clash of the Herd and ‘Eerrs. You see there was nothing on radar to track until 2pm when cells began to fire.
Trouble was in the weekend tropical air mass which sent temperatures soaring into the upper 90s, the atmosphere was slowly simmering like a pressure cooker. In time, there was no doubt it would storm (once the cooker blew its lid), but the timing of the blown lid was dependent on when and where you lived/played.
On Saturday, for example, I visited Portsmouth for the River Days parade. Folks lined the mile and a half parade route some 20,000 strong for the 11am start.
Since I was the next to the last of the almost 200 units that made the trip from Spartan Stadium to Tracy Park, more than half of those in attendance never saw me. They gave up on the blazing 95 degree heat. So by 1pm as I drove along Offnere and Gallia Streets, there was a dearth of parade fans.
As I passed the Trojan Coliseum where PHS and West had played in the intense heat just 16 hours before, I noted the beautiful altocumulus congestus clouds that were billowing to the heavens over the stadium. “Are they going to get us”, a WSAZ fan yelled. “Flip a coin”, I replied.
You see I knew these would in time form into thunderheads. But would it rain here, in New Boston, Minford, South Shore? If it did rain would it be before 6, after 9? Those were my predicaments.
Turned out it did not rain in Portsmouth on Saturday afternoon while nearby in both Huntington and Charleston, gully washers formed, did their dirty work then rained themselves out.
As Dr. Craig Boren once told me at Penn State way back in 1980, “Tony people want to know when and where it will rain for their kids soccer games orthe drive to ballet”.
That brings me back to the Coal Bowl. By 3PM Sunday, thunderstorms had erupted in clusters in Central WV, and Ohio and began to train one after another toward Morgantown. It was clear that a thunder delay was coming.
The first storm arrived (5:45pm) just after halftime. Then in rapid fire multiple storm lines drenched Morgantown with torrential rains and vivid lightning.
The 4 plus hours in delays were certainly unfair to players, coaches, refs and paying patrons alike.
The FORECAST for this Saturday you ask? Well, the ‘Eers kick at noon, partly cloudy and 70 degrees. The Herd hosts Southern Miss at 3:30. Again some sun and 75 degrees.
As for rain and thunder, odds favor only a half hour of rain tops at either venue during the game. We can only hope that FORECAST holds true. After all, it is just a FORECAST!