University of St. Joseph’s winter sports conference competition canceled due to COVID-19

The University of St. Joseph in West Hartford will not play its conference athletic schedule this winter after the Great Northeast Athletic Conference announced Monday that it has canceled all conference winter sports contests due to COVID-19.



Jim Calhoun wearing a suit and tie: Jim Calhoun and his Division III St. Joseph men's basketball team will not be able to play conference games this winter as the Great Northeast Athletic Conference canceled all conference winter sports contests Monday due to COVID-19.


© Mark Mirko/Mark Mirko/Hartford Courant/TNS
Jim Calhoun and his Division III St. Joseph men’s basketball team will not be able to play conference games this winter as the Great Northeast Athletic Conference canceled all conference winter sports contests Monday due to COVID-19.

Winter sports include men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s swimming and diving, and men’s and women’s indoor track and field.

Albertus Magnus in New Haven, another GNAC school, also canceled its winter sports.

The conference is allowing each school to plan for nonconference competition consistent with national and state public health, NCAA and institutional guidelines, as well as providing training and conditioning opportunities.

“St. Joseph is considering all options, including on-campus training plans and exploring alternative opportunities to compete this winter,” the school said in a statement. “We will update student-athletes with plans in the coming weeks. The health and well-being of our student-athletes, coaches, staff and community will remain our highest priority during this process.”

Last winter, St. Joseph men’s basketball, coached by Hall of Famer Jim Calhoun, advanced to its first NCAA Division III Tournament appearance, where the Blue Jays lost to Hobart in the first round, 78-74, on March 6 in Springfield. The Blue Jays had a 25-game winning streak last season, and Calhoun picked up his 900th career victory in January.

Lori Riley can be reached at [email protected]

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Report forecasts major small business job losses in Denver and beyond as winter chill sets in

The “Game of Thrones” tagline “winter is coming” is especially ominous for small businesses in this COVID-19 battered year.

A new report from online payroll and benefits platform Gusto predicts dire outcomes if more government relief funding is not made available to help businesses through the cold weather months.

The report, authored by Gusto economist Luke Pardue, outlines a scenario where retailers and leisure and hospitality businesses including restaurants hemorrhage 1.4 million jobs as cold weather makes pandemic adaptations like outdoor dining and queuing outside shops with capped capacities untenable in large swaths of the northern and western U.S.

If coronavirus cases spike, as they already are in Colorado and other parts of the country, and economic activity slows even more, Pardue predicts that small businesses in those sectors could shed 2.8 million jobs.

Denver would not be spared. Gusto, which has a large office in the city, predicts that hospitality and retail businesses in the Denver metro could let go of 33,500 workers over the next few months and 333 small businesses –those with 100 employees or fewer– could close by late January.

“Denver has experienced a pretty substantial recovery since the depths of the recession. About half of those gains were due to outdoor adjustments business was able to make,” Pardue said “I know Denver people are used to cold weather, but it’s kind of open question if when the snow comes if they will wait in line when the bookstore has a capacity limit.”

Gusto’s predictions rely on some assumptions. Chief among them that half of all retail and leisure jobs U.S. employers added back this summer after mass job cuts this spring were made possible by adjustments like expanded al fresco dining. Pardue’s report acknowledges other factors such as the rollback of government restrictions and shutdown orders have played a part in the country’s uneven economic recovery. The report cites a study from the National Bureau of Economic Research to assert that customer traffic “was much more responsive to business efforts to decrease crowding within the establishment.”

Seasonal job losses are common in the Denver metro area. The leisure and hospitality industry has employed 10,500 fewer workers on average in February when compared to the previous September over the last 10 years, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. But Pardue said his predictions aren’t impacted by that seasonality because he is focused on the months of October, November and December when employment numbers are relatively flat, only varying by a few thousand jobs one way or another.

Colorado’s unemployment rate fell to a pandemic low of 6.4% last month after a household worker survey indicated 63,400 people in the state found employment between August and September.

In a recent email to The Denver Post, state labor economist Ryan Gedney reiterated a point he has made repeatedly in recent weeks: Job recovery over the next six months will depend heavily on demand for restaurant dining as the weather turns cold and the industry’s ability to accommodate

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Why Mohegan Sun will be the hub of college basketball this winter

UNCASVILLE, Conn. — Mohegan Sun – a resort casino on tribal land in Connecticut – is finalizing plans to host more than 30 college basketball teams as it becomes a modified bubble for several early-season tournaments, including two being moved from New York.

The casino has teamed up with the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, which holds its men’s Tip-Off Tournament and Women’s Challenge there every year, and the Gazelle Group, which runs the Empire Classic and the Legends Classic in New York.

The organizers plan to hold those tournaments and several other “pods” of games, which will get names in the next few weeks, at the Mohegan Sun, which is owned by the Mohegan Tribe and includes a 10,000-seat arena that is home to the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun.

“It’s a single site, secluded location, with enormous square footage for social distancing,” said Greg Procino, vice president of basketball operations for the Hall of Fame. “There are a lot of things that will work in our favor.”

Rick Giles, the president of the Gazelle Group, said that they are still finalizing plans for some games, but they expect about 35 teams from more than a dozen conferences will participate at what they are dubbing “Bubbleville” between Nov. 25 and Dec. 5, with up to seven games per day.

There will be at least nine “pods” of games, beginning with the Empire Classic on Nov. 25-26, which will include Villanova, Baylor, Arizona State, and Boston College.

UConn, USC, Virginia, Florida, St. John’s, UMass, Vanderbilt, BYU, Louisville, North Carolina State, and other men’s and women’s programs also have agreed to play, organizers said.

Officials from Gazelle and the Hall of Fame were meeting Friday with casino officials to finalize some of the details.

“We’ve been able to combine and leverage both our organizations and strengths to create something bigger than what we originally had,” Giles said. “I don’t know if either organization individually could have pulled off what we’re about to do next month.”

The Mohegan Sun has already developed protocols for coronavirus testing, cleaning and managing sports during the pandemic. It also has its own medical staff and facilities to treat and isolate anyone who may be infected. The resort teamed with Viacom over the summer to produce televised boxing matches and mixed martial arts events.

Tom Cantone, the senior vice president for sports and entertainment at Mohegan Sun, said what they’ve created is not a full bubble like the NBA and WNBA had in Florida, but a highly controlled environment.

“We’re just following the playbook we’ve already established and has been working brilliantly,” Cantone said. “We will just continue to do what we’ve been doing with our doctors and protocols. So far, it’s worked flawlessly.”

Each team will be tested upon arrival and each school will have its own secured floor in the resort’s 34-story tower hotels along with meeting and catered dining areas. The resort’s 125,000-square-foot exposition center will be converted into a practice facility, with

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Forecasters expect more snow than last winter in Washington, D.C.

We interviewed via email seven forecasters who either own forecasting businesses or represent larger companies. All but two predicted just 10 inches or so for the winter. The two outliers are calling for more than 20 inches, offering a glimmer of hope for area snow lovers.

Most of the forecasters we queried named La Niña as the primary reason snow amounts may be somewhat depressed.

During La Niña events, characterized by cooler than normal ocean waters in the tropical Pacific Ocean, the prevailing storm track is typically north of Washington. Such tracks draw in mild air when precipitation threatens, meaning more wintry-mix events and rain, rather than snow. Also, storms that track north of Washington usually produce less precipitation than storms that come up from the south.

Historically, La Niña winters have produced slightly less snow than El Niño winters, when storms more frequently approach from the south.

Five of the seven forecasters we reached out to called for a milder-than-normal winter for the sixth season in a row. (Our last colder-than-average winter was in 2015.) However, several noted that while La Niñas often draw mild air into the area, they can be volatile and sometimes involve brutal blasts of Arctic air.

The official outlook from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration favors a milder than normal winter in Washington, largely due to the La Niña influence on the prevailing storm track.

The two forecasters who called for snowy and/or cold winters pointed to the fact that the configuration of weather systems in the northern Pacific Ocean and high latitudes, from Alaska to Greenland, can override the effects of La Niña. They see early indications this could be the case in the upcoming winter.

The Capital Weather Gang will issue its outlook for the 2020-2021 winter in early November.

Below, we summarize the outlooks from the seven meteorologists we contacted:

Joe Bastardi, WeatherBell

Predicted snowfall: 10 inches

Temperatures: Somewhat above normal, by two degrees

In his outlook (behind a paywall) posted at the end of September, Bastardi writes that the basis for his forecast is the historical behavior of developing (first-year) La Niña events. While they’re associated with warmer than normal weather in the Mid-Atlantic, he says they often feature “big cold outbreaks” and are volatile.

“This is kind of a high-risk forecast,” he writes. “I am more concerned about a colder, rather than a warmer look, in the longer term.”

Regarding snow, Bastardi cautions, “even in warm winters, one or two storms … can sneak in and provide significant snowfalls.”

Todd Crawford, the Weather Company (owned by IBM)

Predicted snowfall: 7 inches

Temperatures: Above normal

Crawford said he believes La Niña will suppress snowfall. “The last 8 La Niña winters have seen snowfall totals range from 2 to 14 inches, all 8 events *below* the standard 30-year normal of 15 inches,” he writes. He adds that zones of high pressure in the high latitudes required for sustained cold will be “relatively infrequent” if computer models are correct.

Judah Cohen,

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Warm, dry winter expected in Colorado

Coloradans can expect a warmer, drier, and less snowy winter than average according to a new report out on Thursday. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, released their annual winter outlook in collaboration with the agency’s Climate Prediction Center.

The forecast calls for a drier-than-average winter season for much of the southwest, including the southern half of Colorado. The outlook calls for “equal chances” of below average, near average, and above-average precipitation for northern Colorado. To put it plainly, there are very few signals that show Colorado benefiting from wetter-than-average weather from December through February. This will likely lead to an intensification of the ongoing drought here in Colorado, and an expansion of drought over much of the western United States. It is disappointing news for water supply concerns and the Colorado ski resorts, as the region continues to suffer through its driest year overall since 2006.

Regarding winter temperatures, NOAA is favoring warmer-than-average conditions over all of Colorado, with the highest odds of an unusually warm winter across the southern part of the state. The agency is expecting below-average temperatures to be confined to the Northern Plains, Northern Rockies and the Pacific Northwest, as abnormal warmth likely envelopes much of the rest of the nation.

One of the main climate tools that long-range forecasters use as guidance for seasonal forecasting is the current state of the El Niño Southern Oscillation, or ENSO for short. ENSO is significantly large enough to alter the global circulation, which in turn can greatly influence temperature and precipitation patterns across the United States. In early September, NOAA officially determined that the ENSO had shifted into its cold phase, called La Niña. La Niña represents a large pool of colder-than-normal sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean. Since being classified over a month ago, the La Niña has continued to strengthen and NOAA is expecting a moderate-to-strong event to last through the upcoming winter season.

Denver’s average seasonal snowfall total for the past ten La Niña events equates to around 40 inches, which is less than 75% of normal for the Mile High City. Seven of those ten La Niña winters featured below average snowfall. During the most recent La Niña event from 2017-2018, a paltry 25.7 inches of snow was tallied at Denver International Airport for the entire season. The last time that the Denver area saw seasonal snowfall close to average during a La Niña was in the winter of 2011-2012, when 55 inches was recorded.

It is important to note that these outlooks only characterize the trends, averaged over the three month period from Dec. 1 to Feb. 28. Within that period, Colorado can still expect quite a few snow events and blasts of bitter chill. Now is a good time to prepare your vehicles, home and family for the hazardous winter weather that lies ahead. But when all gets averaged together at the end of the winter, odds favor this one going down in the record books as

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Forecasters: California’s winter weather prediction

The La Niña climate pattern is expected to worsen existing drought conditions in California in the coming months, according to a new outlook published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center. The forecast covers the period between Dec. 2020 – Feb. 2021.

La Niña refers to the cooling of ocean surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean near the equator that impacts wind patterns and weather. It means that most of California has a good chance of a warmer-than-normal winter temperatures, according to the forecast. This is coupled with a greater chance of drier conditions.

This 2020-2021 U.S. Winter Outlook map for precipitation shows wetter-than-average weather is most likely across the Northern Tier of the U.S. and drier-than-average weather is favored across the South. (NOAA Climate.gov, using NWS CPC data) 

 

These conditions would worsen ongoing drought in the state in the near term. In fact, drought is greatly impacting large areas in the West as a result of the weak Southwest summer monsoon season and near-record-high temperatures, according to the report. The brutal wildfire season in the West is also a byproduct of this.

 

This seasonal U.S. Drought Outlook map for November 2020 through January 2021 predicts persistent drought across much of the Western U.S. in the months ahead. (NOAA Climate.gov based on NWS CPC data) 

 

The NOAA report includes forecasts for the entire continental U.S., and predicts cooler, wetter conditions in the northern parts of the country, in part due to La Nina.

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