Summer Baseball and Weather Factors
The uniqueness of 2020 has caused the Major League Baseball (MLB) season to be compressed into sixty games. One might think a baseball season starting in July (as we have this year) would bring little worry in the weather department. After all, as I explained in this previous post, April historically sees the most weather-related postponements – with nearly 40% of the total occurring in that month. This makes it possible for most games to be made up well before they produce significant playoff implications. Not only can it be cold in April, but it is more prone to see long-lasting rain (or snow) events which postpone games into summertime.
Summer Rainfalls Delay Games
By contrast, summer rainfalls connected to thunderstorm activity seldom last more than a couple hours. It is less common for these shorter-duration rainfalls to wash out a baseball game unless team officials are very impatient. However, delays due to summertime rain and/or lightning are not uncommon. While these weather issues do not so much inconvenience the fans now limited to attending games virtually, they still cause plenty of headaches for team and MLB officials.
April of 2018 Postponements
In the 2018 regular season, over fifty major league games were postponed because of weather, tied for the second most since good records of such statistics began in 1986. True to form, April of 2018 was the month that produced more than half of that season’s postponements. Many of these were due to unseasonable cold in the Midwest and Northeast (where the month ranked among the top 10 coldest on record in nearly two dozen states), including three consecutive games at Target Field in Minneapolis postponed due to a mid-month blizzard. Of those games that were played, a large proportion had conditions more conducive to football than baseball. According to this Chicago Tribune article, 35 MLB games were played in April, 2018 when temperatures at first pitch were 40 or lower — compared with only two such chilly gatherings in the entire 2017 season!
Wildfires and Named Storms
Another late summer weather issue — seen more often in the past twenty years — is the threat of tropical storms and hurricanes. Postponements due to these named storms could play havoc in the next few weeks. The Atlantic hurricane season has produced a record number of storms through the 15th of August with conditions very favorable for many more storms in the next few weeks when activity usually peaks. If tropical weather threatens, some games might end up being played on schedule only by changing their location. The 2017 hurricane season forced MLB to move several games to locations other than where they were originally scheduled.
Out west, excessive heat and unseasonal thunderstorm activity at the onset of peak fire season has promoted an outbreak of more than two dozen California wildfires. As I write, fires threatening some of the distant Bay Area suburbs were spreading smoke over the region. If the situation worsens, it may be difficult at times to play baseball games at Oakland Coliseum and Oracle Park.
With creative scheduling already fully operational just four weeks into this baseball season, one can expect more unique measures to come! Because decisions on delaying or postponing games are very sensitive to the exact weather conditions, baseball fans can benefit from looking at a very detailed forecast — such as those provided at this site.
So be aware that, though the late start to 2020 baseball allowed us to avoid early season cold weather, the threat of rain, tropical systems, and even smoke from fires will keep teams and fans ever-vigilant for the upcoming games scheduled in outdoor stadiums!