Coldest Thanksgiving In 100 Years: New York City's Macy’s Parade Could Set Records Under Arctic Chill

Go Ahead, Blame Canada

Talk about cold turkey! The coldest Thanksgiving in 100 years, and quite possibly the coldest Thanksgiving ever, has hit the Northeast United States today.

The unprecedented cold snap comes courtesy of a large Canadian chill working its way across the country on its way to the Atlantic. According to the Weather Network, the deep freeze is the result of a large, low pressure system moving south from the Arctic across the Great Lakes. Combine that with a wicked wind chill, and many Americans are looking at the coldest Thanksgiving in a century.

It's an especially bitter twist for fans of the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. According to the New York Weather Service, the anticipated high temperature will be 27 degrees Fahrenheit, and the low will be 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Based on record-keeping that goes back to the 1870s, those forecasts would make today the third-coldest Thanksgiving in modern history. The all-time coldest Thanksgiving occurred in 1871, with a high of 21 degrees and a low of 15 degrees.

And the coldest Thanksgiving in 100 years looks to be among the windiest as well. Forecasts are calling for northwest winds of 15 to 20 miles per hour, with gusts up to 30 mph. Those steady winds will be bone-chilling, knocking as much as 10 degrees off the temperature.

Already today an 18-degree morning on New York’s Upper East Side has felt a wind chill take the temperature down to 8 degrees.

But fears that the high winds could cancel the iconic Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade were unfounded, as all indications on Macy’s social media accounts point to business as usual on parade day, although difficult winds will almost certainly make for some interesting moments on live television as the massive floats wind their way along the parade route.

Of course, weather forecasts aren’t always 100 percent accurate, so there is a possibility that today’s high temperature could fall a bit short of projections. For the millions of Americans looking to celebrate Thanksgiving today, those few degrees are likely a moot point.

This Thanksgiving will certainly be remembered by many as the coldest in their lifetimes, but many should give thanks that the coldest Thanksgiving in 100 years isn’t the snowiest too.

Forecasts call for a clear day, so this record-setting cold streak won’t bear any resemblance to the Great Appalachian Storm of 1950. According to the Weather Underground, that legendary tempest dumped several feet of snow across the Northeast and Midwest, including single-day records of 63 inches in West Virginia and 44 inches in Ohio. And today’s winds can’t compare with the hurricane-force gales generated by that blizzard, which saw speeds upwards of 90 mph in New York City.

Anyone who needs to venture out on this cold Thanksgiving, is advised to follow these extreme cold-weather tips from the National Weather Service:

  • Wear layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing, and a hat.

  • Mittens, snug at the wrist, are better than gloves.

  • Cover your mouth to protect your lungs from extreme cold.

  • Try to stay dry and out of the wind.

Will you be braving the elements to watch a parade? Are you spending your day in a warm kitchen? Has the weather affected your travel plans? Let us know in the comments!

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