AUGUSTA, Ga. — Dark clouds loomed over Augusta National early on Friday, literally and figuratively. The good news for patrons during the second round of the Masters is that they didn’t bring with them much in the way of precipitation, allowing players in the morning wave to get around without needing their rain gear.
But the clouds presence was menacing given the upcoming forecast. If you’re coming to Augusta this weekend, lets just say you should bring you wellies.
The official Masters weather update predicted a 40-percent chance of scattered showers and thunderstorms for Friday afternoon, as temperatures are expected to hover around 80 degrees. Come Saturday, the forecast looks slightly better—only a 30-percent chance rain and thunder with temperatures rising to 85 degrees.
Where things could potentially turn ugly is Sunday, with the chance of thunderstorms jumping to 80 percent. Here’s how the forecast is spelled out in the weather synopsis (WARNING: the following contains graphic descriptions unsuitable for avid golfers):
“A strong cold front will approach Augusta on Sunday, bringing increasing chances of strong thunderstorms during the late afternoon into the evening hours. Winds will increase ahead of the front Sunday afternoon with gusts expected to reach 20-30 mph later in the day.”
Oh my. At least there wasn’t any mention about flying cows.
The thing is, Augusta National officials have had the good fortune of Mother Nature cooperating in the recent past. Just once in the last 10 Masters has rain fallen during the tournament (in 2013). And not since 2008 has there been a suspension of play due to inclement weather, when lightning moved through during Saturday’s third round.
You could argue the Masters was owed a run of uninterrupted tournaments given the weather issues it has endured throughout its history. From its inception in 1934, the tournament has had rain fall 42 times in 82 playings. According to the Masters media guide, play has been suspended by rain/storms 27 times in 21 different years.
Weather snobs might recall some particularly bad stretches at Augusta. The worst? From 1973 and 2008, a span of 36 years, the tournament had rain fall 24 times. In 17 years of those years, play had to be halted.
What of course is throwing the biggest scare into folks around here is the thought of the final round being compromised. Despite the history of lousy weather, the Masters has been forced to have a Monday finish only four times: 1936, 1961, 1973 and 1983. Suffice it to say, officials want to see the Sunday electricity confined to the golf course and not the sky.
*UPDATE, Saturday, April 13—Conspiracy theoriests will no doubt run wild with the fact that the latest weather update from the Masters includes a description of Monday's weather in the Extended Outlook. (Here's hoping it's just an advisory for everyone flying home.) But the latest for Sunday still doesn't look promising. There's now a 30 percent chance for morning showers and isolated thunderstorms, with it still jumping to an 80 percent chance at 4 p.m. "Heavy rains and strong winds are possible.
Oh, for those curious, the Monday forecast is mostly sunny, breezy, cooler and less humid, with a high of 73 degrees.