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Weather Blog: Hot Or Cold Turkey? A History Of Thanksgiving Weather

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(credit: CBS) Lauren Casey
Lauren Casey joined the WCCO-TV weather team in August 2011, a...
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The Thanksgiving holiday is just a few days away, so will the weather allow you to get outside and throw the football around before gobbling up that turkey or will frigid conditions have you sidelined by the living room fireplace — watching football on the tube?

Last year, our Twin Cities Turkey Day was the fourth warmest on record with a high temperature was 59 degrees. The weather warmed our apple pies, in 1914 and 1922 with a tie for record warmest at 62 degrees.

Warmth, though, is not the long term trend for Thanksgiving as a high temperature of 50 degrees or warmer has occurred on only 10 times from 1872 to 2011.

In fact, below-zero lows are more common than 50-degree highs. According to the Minnesota Climatology Working Group, sub-zero readings have occurred 12 times in the past 140 years. Thanksgiving of 1985 is the most recent; at eight below zero.

And what are the chances of a white Thanksgiving? Measurable snow has fallen in the Twin Cities on 27 Turkey Days from 1884 to 2011; or about every five years. The last time you could stick a wish bone in the snow was Thanksgiving of 2007 with 0.20 inches of snow.

This year’s holiday looks to feature atypically warm temperatures, puff-coat worthy cold, and even a few flakes — yes, all in the same day.

A powerful closed area of low pressure will drive into the region early Thanksgiving morning. A strong south-westerly flow ahead of the system will draw unseasonably warm air in across the state. Thus, one of the warmest Thanksgivings on record is again likely this year in the Twin Cities with highs in the mid- to upper-50s! The record high for Nov. 22 is 59 degrees!

Conversely, storming in on the back side of the system will be a big, cold, arctic air mass. This will commence in the early evening hours with temperatures to plummet, as quickly as our energy-levels after mounds of mashed potato consumption, Thanksgiving night.

So, attention all Black Friday shoppers! Prepare to bundle up as TC Metro temps are likely to fall into the 20s by midnight. We could even see some flurries flying into Friday morning with measurable snow possible across northern Minnesota.

Whatever the weather, have a safe and happy holiday.

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