The Ice Bowl: December 31, 1967
The 1967 NFL Championship Game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Green Bay Packers, played on December 31 at Lambeau Field, is known as the Ice Bowl, arguably one of the greatest games in NFL history.
The game was played in brutal cold and windy conditions. The kickoff temperature in Green Bay was -13 F, with a wind chill of 36 below zero. Temperatures were so cold, in fact, that referees had to shout signals so that the metal whistles wouldn't stick to their lips. Even so, nearly 51,000 fans watched the coldest game in league annals.
Several players were treated for frostbite and a fan in the stands died of exposure to the cold.
Bart Starr, the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame quarterback, scored the game-winning touchdown with 13 seconds remaining, clinching a third straight NFL Championship for the Packers.
Some Interesting Ice Bowl Weather Facts
The Weather Leading Up to the Ice Bowl
The overall weather pattern during the month of December 1967 underwent a rather dramatic "second half adjustment." The upper level flow during the first half of the month was characterized by a "split flow" regime. The west-to-east northern stream over Canada essentially blocked the Arctic air from moving southward into the United States (figure on left, below). However, during the second half of the month, the upper air pattern changed dramatically such that by the end of December 1967, a large polar vortex had become established over Hudson Bay with a large and deep trough centered right over the central United States (figure on right, below). This pattern change allowed the Arctic air that was building up in Canada earlier in the month to spill south into the United States by the end of the month.
|500 mb (~ 18000 ft) chart on December 16, 1967. Click image for larger view.||500 mb (~ 18000 ft) chart on December 28, 1967. Click image for larger view.|
The graph below shows the trend in the daily average temperature during the month of December 1967.
|Daily average temperatures in December 1967. Click image for larger view.|
The Weather the Day of the Ice Bowl
The weather the day before the Ice Bowl was relatively tranquil with a high of 20 F. However, later that evening shortly before midnight, an Arctic front swept across the state ushering bitter cold air into the state. The temperature fell nearly 30 degrees during the 12 hour period ending at 9 am the morning of the Ice Bowl. By 9 am Sunday, December 31, 1967, the temperature plummeted to minus 16 F with wind chill values falling to -38 F. During the game, actual temperatures ranged from -12 F to -14 F with wind chills (based on the new wind chill index) ranging from -33 to -37 F making it the coldest game in NFL history.
|Surface weather chart on December 31, 1967. Click image for larger view.||Three-hourly weather on December 31, 1967. Click image for larger view.|