How will the weather affect the BCS National Championship coverage locally?

Published 5:17 pm Tuesday, January 5, 2010

As the Million Dollar Band strikes up “Yea Alabama” and the University of Alabama football team runs onto the field Thursday to open the 2010 BCS National Championship game between the Crimson Tide and the Texas Longhorns, the unthinkable happens.

The power goes off.

That scenario could happen as snowfall is expected across the state Thursday as temperatures continue to plummet below freezing.

With forecasts calling for 1-1 ½ inches of snow across central Alabama, Alabama Power is already preparing for power outages during what could be the most-watched event in state history.

“That’s an important game for the state,” said Patrick Wylie, the director of corporate communications for Alabama Power. “We’re always watching the weather and anticipating what we will do next.”

Because the forecasts are calling for snow instead of freezing rain that turns to snow, Wylie said he does not anticipate widespread power problems.

“Snow, we know, does not cause the panic on our systems,” Wylie said. “We do not anticipate, Thursday, any adverse effects.”

While Wylie said Alabama Power doesn’t anticipate problems from the snow, there should be an increase of power usage due to the freezing temperatures and people watching the game indoors.

“We do expect greater demand on our systems,” Wylie said. “We fully expect to meet that demand.”

While there is always a possibility of the power or cable going out during severe weather, ABC 33/40 Vice President and General Manager Mike Murphy said the station’s meteorologists do not anticipate a large-scale weather emergency that would warrant pre-empting coverage of the BCS National Championship game.

In fact, he said it isn’t going to happen.

“We’re not going to interrupt the program,” Murphy said.

Murphy also said the station will not run maps, graphics or scrolls during the broadcast.

Murphy said the station will have weather coverage on the digital channels, online and before and after the game, if necessary.

“We don’t see the weather event to be that severe,” Murphy said. “We understand the importance of the game and we want to sit back and enjoy the game too.”

Efforts to reach Charter Communications to see how the cable provider was preparing for the weather were unsuccessful.