"White Thanksgivings" in the Northeast

Posted: November 2, 2017, 6:48 am by abarney

Typically, questions surrounding winter weather and holidays are reserved for Christmas. Most of us wonder each year who will experience a “White Christmas”, even though in the Northeast, it historically hasn’t happened that often. This got us thinking… how often has it snowed on Thanksgiving in recent years? We took a look at data for the last 50 years, and came up with answers – some of which were a little surprising!

IR satellite image of the Thanksgiving 1989 snow storm (courtesy NCDC)


Data that we examined showed that on Thanksgiving Days between 1965 and 2014, it snowed anywhere from 10-18% of the time, dependent on location. Surprisingly, Boston, MA and Philadelphia, PA both had the highest number of Thanksgivings with snow, though six and eight days, respectively, only received a trace. The leader of days with measurable snow was Hartford, CT (Bradley Int’l) with six!

While the Northeast saw significant snow on Thanksgiving Eve just last year, the last major snowstorm on Thanksgiving Day itself occurred in 1989, where snowfall totals ranged from 2 to 6 inches between D.C. and Boston. This was the most widespread significant Thanksgiving snowfall we’ve seen in the past 50 years, with all locations we researched reporting more than 1 inch of accumulation. The highest Thanksgiving snowfall from an official airport was 7.6 inches measured at Hartford/Bradley International in 1971.

So while it is a rarity for the Northeast to see a "White Thanksgiving" since air masses cold enough to support snow typically do not arrive until December, history shows us it can certainly happen! That's why WeatherWorks winter forecasts begin in November so our clients stay on top of all winter storms, no matter how early it may snow.


**Turkey in Snow lead image courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Kent Mason under license Creative Commons 2.0


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