49ers, Packers – and their fans – brace for brutal cold

Published: Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014 - 10:57 pm

Adam Palmer will attend his 126th 49ers game today, but his mother would have a hard time picking him out of the Lambeau Field stands.

That’s because he’ll be decked out in not one but two ski masks topped off with a 49ers helmet-hat. He plans to wear four layers on his torso and hand warmers inside his mittens.

And for his feet?

“Moon boots,” said Palmer, who drove six hours from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. “They’re good for 40 below.”

He might need every fiber of that protection. The National Weather Service is calling for a high temperature of 1 degree today, a low temperature approaching minus-25 degrees at night and a wind chill of minus-50 degrees.

That’s not quite as frigid as the “Ice Bowl,” the 1967 championship game between the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys, the coldest NFL game ever played. The temperature dipped to minus-13 and the wind chill was minus-48.

But today’s game is expected to at least end as one of the coldest on record.

The Packers will hand out free hand warmers to fans at the gate. And to stay warm, steaming cups of coffee and hot chocolate also will be complementary. One pallet of hot chocolate is typically enough for a game at Lambeau, but the Packers will have six pallets, enough for 100,000 servings.

At the Packers Pro Shop on Lombardi Avenue, hand warmers, foot warmers and seat cushions – a barrier between a fan’s back side and the warmth-robbing metal bleachers at Lambeau – have been the hottest sellers as a deep freeze, the likes of which hasn’t been seen in 40 years in these parts, descends on the upper Midwest.

“If we run out of mittens, then we sell socks, and if we run out of seat cushions, we’ll sell the foam No. 1 fingers,” said Kate Hogan, the team’s director of retail operations. “So anything that can work against the cold will go.”

In January 2008, the Packers hosted a playoff game against the New York Giants with the temperature at kickoff minus-1 degree and the wind chill minus-23 degrees. There were no major issues with exposure among fans, and the Packers hope fans – including a significant number of 49ers backers who snapped up extra tickets the past week – arrive similarly prepared.

Just in case, the team has a list of do’s and don’ts for the bitter chill. For example:

Do: Wear mittens instead of gloves. They keep the hands warmer.

Don’t: Consume a lot of alcohol. It can prevent the body from generating heat and can cause dehydration, which makes a person more susceptible to cold weather.

The 49ers got only a taste of what’s in store today during a Saturday walk-through practice at the Packers’ outdoor grass practice field, adjacent to Lambeau.

But the temperature at the time was 31 degrees, and the players were more concerned about the appropriate cleat length for the Wisconsin tundra than the appropriate amount of layering. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick, for instance, was dressed only in a long-sleeve T-shirt and shorts, albeit with a hunter’s cap – complete with earflaps.

Packers fan James Moser also was walking around in shorts and short sleeves Saturday. He must live in Green Bay, right?

“No, Corpus Christi, Texas,” he said. “It’s 73 degrees there today.”

Moser, however, plans to bulk up his attire for today’s game by dressing in threes – three socks, three shirts and at least one pair of long johns under his jeans.

“This will be the coldest game I’ve ever been to,” he said.


Read Matthew Barrows’ blogs and archives at www.sacbee.com/sf49ers and listen for his reports Tuesdays on ESPN Radio 1320.

Read more articles by Matthew Barrows



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