Kate's Corner: How weather affects baseball

Published: Apr. 24, 2017 at 10:44 AM EDT
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Two things I love: baseball and weather. So, how do these two things affect each other? Well, a lot more than you'd think. Yes, we all know that a thunderstorm will affect a baseball game but did you know that things like air pressure or temperature do too?

Before we get to it, here's a quick physics lesson. When a baseball is flying through the air, two main forces are affecting it: gravity and friction. Gravity pulls down the the ball and has the same affect on every ball, every where. Friction though can change depending on things like air pressure, temperature, humidity, and wind.

With air pressure, the lower the pressure, the less dense the air. When the air is less dense, there are less air molecules around to exert their drag force on the ball. You can get lower air pressure from an area of low pressure over the ballpark or by rising in elevation. So for example, a 400 ft homer in a ballpark at sea level would go actually go around 430 feet at places like Coors Field in Denver due to the higher elevation.

Now on to humidity. More humid air is thinner than drier air. So it may not be as comfortable for you as a fan to sit in more humid air but it is better to get more home runs.

And with baseball, the season starts in April but goes all through summer into even into the start of fall. As we head into summer, the air is warmer. That warmer air expands and lowers the density. So a ball hit during a chilly April game could be a pop fly ball but if hit in the same way during a hot August game, that could be a home run.

Finally wind, Wind can blow a home run or knock them down just depending on the direction it is blowing.

So optimal weather for a baseball game is high elevation, wind blowing out, and a warm and humid air mass.

So next time you're about to watch a game, look up the air pressure, humidity, temperature, and wind direction to determine if Mother Nature is on your team's side.