Pre-Thanksgiving Nor’easter for East Coast? Light snow for Minn. Thursday night

Major Nor’easter for East Coast next Wednesday and Thanksgiving Day?

Pre-Thanksgiving travel in the Midwest looks good right now, but if you’re planning holiday travel to the East Coast you may want to consider getting an early start. Signs of a major Nor’easter are brewing next Wednesday and Thanksgiving Day.

Models from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Global Forecast System and the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts crank up a major nor’easter and sweep it rapidly up the East Coast next Wednesday.

Image: NOAA GFS via College of Dupage
(Image: NOAA GFS via College of Dupage)

It’s early, but this system has the potential to bring heavy rains and high winds of 20-50 mph to Washington D.C., New York, Boston and Philly next Wednesday into early Thanksgiving Day. Inland snow may be an issue as well. Airport delays are a possibility next Wednesday on the East Coast.

If you can travel Tuesday instead of Wednesday you may have better conditions out east.

 “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”  — Ferris Bueller

Ferris Bueller’s classic kernel of wisdom applies to Minnesota’s meteorologists in November. You can’t take your eye off the weather maps for too long this time of year, you might miss something. Weather maps change pretty fast in November. Snow has a way of sneaking up when you least expect it.

(Image: Wikipedia Commons)

Reading the weather tea leaves

I’m still eying the potential for some snow Thursday night into early Friday morning. It doesn’t look like Snowmageddon. No need to play the weather terrorist card. But it’s worth watching. By Friday morning, you may have enough to shovel off your sidewalk, give the snow scraper in your car some long overdue work, and possibly enough to plow in some areas.

Yes, we may go from “November brown” to “winter white” in the next 72 hours in the Twin Cities metro area.

Oh, and did I mention it’s going to be noticeably, bracingly cold this weekend?

On the good weather news front, I still don’t see any big snows that might hinder travel Thanksgiving weekend. In fact the latest trends show that we may see slightly milder breezes after Thanksgiving day. Maybe the trip home from Grandmother’s house will be stress free after all?

One more mild day

Days with southerly flow in Minnesota in November are golden. We’ll enjoy one more Wednesday. A few 50s may linger in southwest Minnesota, but high in the 40s will be common south and east, with some 30s in northwest Minnesota where a gathering cold front pools.

(Image: NOAA)

Tracking Thursday night snow chances

Cold air begins to ooze south Thursday. Then a low pressure wave tracking toward Chicago will throw some moisture up over the descending cold dome over Minnesota. Right now I like the look of the Global Forecast System and Euro solutions. They favor a period of light snow from Thursday evening into the wee hours of Friday morning, possibly tapering off early Friday morning.

Image: NOAA GFS data via Weatherspark

(Image: NOAA GFS data via Weatherspark)

The forecast models don’t seem to aggressive with totals so far. I’ll tweak the inches forecast Wednesday afternoon, but the early flavor of this system looks to be enough to shovel — and maybe enough to plow.

Here’s the GFS notion on potential snow. It’s not a specific forecast yet, but an indication that we may see enough to shovel.

(Image: NOAA via

Thanksgiving weekend: Looking better?

I’m happy to see the maps still void of any big snows Thanksgiving weekend. In fact, the latest trends support a slightly milder flow by Saturday and Sunday of next week.

Here’s the GFS, which is cranking out some less numbing numbers than in previous runs. A decent but cool Black Friday for shoppers perhaps? Oh wait, Black Friday starts Thanksgiving night now.

(Image: NOAA GFS data via IPS Meteostar)

Thanksgiving Day in Minnesota historically shows a wide range of weather conditions.

Turkey Race – 1955
(Courtesy: Minnesota Historical Society)

In case you’re looking for conversation fodder for the dinner table on Thanksgiving Day, here is a great summary of Thanksgiving Day climatology from the Minnesota Climatology Working Group.

Thanksgiving Day Climatology in the Twin Cities: 1872-2012

Because Thanksgiving Day occurs at the transition period between autumn and winter, Thanksgiving weather can be balmy to brutal. A typical Thanksgiving Day in the Twin Cities has high temperatures in the 30’s and at least a bit of filtered sunshine.
Having a mild day in the 50’s on Thanksgiving Day is relatively rare, looking at the historical record back to 1872.

A maximum of 50 or more has happened only eleven times in 141 years, or about once every 14 years or so. The warmest Thanksgiving Day is a tie of 62 degrees set in 1914 and 1922. The mildest recent Thanksgiving Day is 60 degrees just last year on November 22, 2012. This tied 1939 as the third warmest Thanksgiving back to 1872 for the Twin Cities.

On the other side of the spectrum, it is common to have a high temperature below 32. The average Thanksgiving Day temperature is right around freezing. What about extremely cold Thanksgivings? Looking at the past 141 years, it is a little more likely to have a minimum at or below zero on Thanksgiving Day, as it is to have a maximum of 50 or above.

Below-zero lows have occurred nine times in the past 141 years. The coldest Thanksgiving Day minimum temperature was 18 degrees below zero on November 25, 1880. The coldest high temperature was one below zero on November 28, 1872. The last time it was below zero on the morning of Thanksgiving was in 1985, with eight below zero.

Measurable snow fell on 27 of the past Thanksgivings back to 1884, about every five years or so. The most snow that fell on Thanksgiving was five inches in 1970. The last time there was measurable snow on Thanksgiving was just last year with .1 (one tenth of an inch) of snow.

Historically, about one in three Thanksgivings have at least one inch of snow on the ground. The deepest snow pack is a tie with 1921 and 1983, both with 10 inches on the ground by Turkey Day.

It occasionally rains on Thanksgiving Day as well. In 1896, a two-day event in the Twin Cities doused Thanksgiving travelers with nearly three inches of rain.

Last Thanksgiving was even rarer than most, producing a balmy 60 degree high during the day and a chilly accumulation of 0.1 inches of snow that night. Thanksgiving weather like this has not been seen in 141 years.