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El Nino-Induced Rain May Test Playing Fields at Southern US Bowl Games

A wet, rainy pattern due to El Niño could spell trouble for notable college football bowl games across the southeastern United States into the new year.

After a regular season that included several high-profile matchups in arduous weather conditions, fields across the region took a beating. Above-normal rainfall in October and November presented challenges to field managers and the trend could continue for fields prepping for bowl games as El Niño continues to impact weather patterns around the globe.

While many collegiate and professional football stadiums use artificial turf, a number of bowl games, particularly in Florida, will be played on grass fields.

The rainfall earlier this autumn was a direct result of a unusually active southern jet stream, AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Jack Boston said.

The jet stream is a river of strong winds high in the atmosphere, around the altitude that planes fly. It marks the zone where most storms move.

"This is typical of the split jet streams, northern and southern, that are a result of the strengthening El Niño," Boston said. "It has been somewhat quieter this month so far, but with the strong El Niño, the pattern will likely become active again across the Southeast, especially from next week through Christmas then again during January."

Fans may have to prepare for rain rather than sunny skies for bowls across the state.

This year's Armed Forces Bowl will pit California against Air Force on Dec. 29 at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas, a location that was tested by intense rain and howling wind in the regular season.

"Our grass field at Amon G. Carter Stadium held up incredibly well throughout the season," Mark Cohen, TCU's assistant Athletics Director/Media Relations said. "It was most evident with [our Nov. 27] Baylor game that was played in a driving rainstorm."

The College Football Playoff selection committee chairman Jeff Long told reporters that weather conditions can, and do, play a factor in selecting rankings throughout the season. This especially came into play after the Clemson vs. Notre Dame game, played in Death Valley during Hurricane Joaquin's wrath in early October.

Some bowl venues have altered their infrastructure to better handle stormy weather.

After muddy, hazardous conditions for the 2009 Capital One Bowl that featured Penn State vs. LSU, the Citrus Bowl Stadium team made some renovations.

The Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Florida, upgraded its field to an artificial surface.

"This surface was added in 2014 during our stadium's major reconstruction," Orlando Venues Executive Director Allen Johnson said. "We would not be able to host the number of events we host with a natural surface."

The field's drainage system was also upgraded during the field renovation and has performed well, Johnson said.

A result of the new surface is an increase of play on the field for various soccer matches throughout the year.

This year, Orlando Citrus Bowl Stadium will host the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl on Jan. 1, 2016, between No. 14 Michigan and No. 19 Florida.

The Citrus Bowl Stadium will host an earlier game as well as No. 10 North Carolina takes on No. 17 Baylor in the Russell Athletic Bowl on Dec. 29.

The other college bowl games to be played on grass include the Marmot Boca Raton Bowl between Toledo and No. 24 Temple at FAU Stadium in Boca Raton, Florida, on Dec. 22; the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl between Texas A&M and Louisville at Nashville's Nissan Stadium on Dec. 30; and the TaxSlayer Bowl between Penn State and Georgia at EverBank Field in Jacksonville on Jan. 2.