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Thanksgiving Day 2018 may be among coldest on record in northeastern US

By Alex Sosnowski/AccuWeather • Nov 21, 2018 at 5:00 PM

People spending time outdoors during Thanksgiving Day into Black Friday may face some of the coldest conditions on record in the northeastern United States for late November.

Thanksgiving Day 2018 will bring the coldest conditions of the autumn so far; it will flat out be blustery and frigid. Expect northwest winds to average 15-20 mph with gusts up to 30 mph throughout New England and along the coastal mid-Atlantic. The windiest part of the day in the central Appalachians and the mid-Atlantic will be during the morning hours. Much of the day will be windy in New England.

Not only will people attending or participating in parades be at risk for hypothermia and frostbite, but also those people attending traditional Thanksgiving Day football games in the region.

Temperatures during Thanksgiving morning will start off near zero in northern New England and near 30 in southeastern Virginia. Highs are forecast to range from the teens in the northern tier of Maine to the upper 30s in the lower Chesapeake Bay region.

AccuWeather RealFeel Temperatures throughout the Northeast will be 10-20 degrees lower than the actual temperature, which will put levels well below zero at times across the north and in the single digits and teens in Virginia.

Over the past 150 years or so, the bulk of the frigid Thanksgivings occurred during the mid-1800s to near the turn of the 20th Century. For example, in New York City, there have been less than a handful of Thanksgiving days with a forecast morning low in the teens and a high in the 20s, according to AccuWeather meteorologist Jesse Ferrell.

"Nov. 30, 1871, holds the record for the coldest Thanksgiving Day on record in New York City with a low of 15 and a high of 22," Ferrell said.

AccuWeather is projecting a morning low of 21 and an afternoon high of 27 in New York City this Thanksgiving Day.

Meanwhile, in Boston, the coldest Thanksgiving Day was on Nov. 28, 1901, with a high of 24. The lowest temperature for any Thanksgiving morning or late evening was on Nov. 27, 1873, with a low of 11.

AccuWeather is predicting a low of 15 and a high of 24 in Boston on Thanksgiving Day.

Farther south, in the Washington, D.C., and Baltimore areas, this may be the coldest Thanksgiving since 1996. In Washington, the high temperature was only 35 and the low was 26 during 1996. In Baltimore, the high was 33 and the low was 18 on the same Thanksgiving Day on Nov. 28.

In Philadelphia, on Nov. 28, 1996, the high was 30 and the low was 21.

Most likely temperatures will be within a degree or two of these levels from Washington, D.C., to Philadelphia.

The cold weather will be supplied by a burst of arctic air that will race across the eastern Great Lakes on Wednesday and then the central and northern Appalachians and coastal Northeast during Wednesday night.

Along the leading edge of the cold air and as the air passes over the Great Lakes, locally blinding snow squalls will be unleashed, according to AccuWeather meteorologist Courtney Travis.

"The snow squalls will pose a danger for millions of those taking to the roads as the pavement may transition from dry to snow-covered in a couple of minutes during Wednesday afternoon and evening," Travis said.

While winds will be much less on Friday, compared to Thanksgiving Day, even a little breeze will bite with forecast temperatures within several degrees of that of Thursday morning and Thursday afternoon.

Early morning Black Friday shoppers waiting in lines outside of the stores will need to dress in warm layers. A knitted hat and gloves are highly recommended to avoid the risk of hypothermia and frostbite.

Temperatures are forecast to moderate over the weekend and may approach average levels by Sunday.

In case you have forgotten what average temperatures are during late November, highs typically range from the lower 40s across the northern tier to near 60 in southeastern Virginia.

Despite the moderating trend this weekend, a fast-moving storm is also expected to sweep across the region.

While temperatures may rise enough to bring rain to most areas, enough cold air may remain trapped during the start of the storm to allow ice from the central Appalachians to northern New England at the onset of the storm from Saturday afternoon to part of Sunday. Rain and ice from the storm may not reach eastern New England until early Sunday.

Another storm is likely to sweep from southwest to northeast across the region spanning Sunday night to Monday night.

While that storm for early next week may bring rain to much of the region on the front end, strong winds and colder air may cause problems in the wake Monday night to Tuesday.

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