Thanksgiving Weather History

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By Jason Pelletier on November 20, 2012, 12:33pm Last modified: November 23, 2012, 8:45am

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Luckily this year we’ll be enjoying a wonderful week weather-wise but the Thanksgiving holiday is no stranger to stormy weather. Let’s take a look back at some of the major storms to hit the continental United States during Thanksgivings past:

The ‘Portland Gale’ November 26, 1898

The ‘Portland Gale’ was a nor’easter that struck the New England seaboard during the evening of November 26, 1898. The storm’s name came from the SS Portland, a steamship that sank off of the Massachusetts coast while attempting to make a scheduled run from Boston to Portland, Maine. An estimated 192 people died as a result of the ship sinking and in total the storm led to about 450 deaths.  Extremely strong winds and snowfall caused widespread damage throughout New England with hurricane force winds felt in Nantucket and gusts up to 90 miles per hour recorded in the Boston area.

The Thanksgiving Weekend Storm of 1950

Also known as ‘The Great Appalachian Storm,’ the Thanksgiving Weekend Storm of 1950 was one of the most severe storms to hit the eastern United States. As the storm tracked inland along the Appalachians, it created record low temperatures for the south, flooding along the northeast coast and heavy snowfall totals in Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Many places in Ohio received over 30 inches of snow. Strong winds were felt in the northeast with gusts of 83mph felt in Albany, 94mph in New York City, and a 110mph gust felt in Concord, New Hampshire.

The Thanksgiving Day Storm of 1971

Heavy snow hit Albany, NY during the holiday in 1971. Albany picked up 22.5 inches of snow with local amounts ranging upwards of 30 inches. Albany’s snowfall is their greatest November snowfall on record.

The Colorado Blizzard of 1983

This blizzard produced over 20 inches of snow in the Denver Metro area in just 37 hours. The Stapleton Airport was closed for over 24 hours leading to travel headaches for the Thanksgiving holiday. The blizzard conditions closed down highways around the Denver area.

Thanksgiving Snowstorm of 1987

This was a storm that produced heavy snow in northern New England and upstate New York. Totals ranged up to 20 inches in Maine and New Hampshire.

The Thanksgiving Day Storm of 1989

A nor’easter brought snow to the mid-Atlantic and southern New England states on Thanksgiving in 1989. Cape Cod received about 14 inches of snow while New York City reached almost 5 inches, which would be a record for Thanksgiving Day.

Blizzard in the North Plains, 2005

Freezing rain and sleet brought more that 2 inches of ice accumulation to parts of South Dakota and Minnesota in the days following Thanksgiving in 2005 causing massive travel problems for people going through the Northern Plain states in 2005. The Blizzard also brought upwards of 20 inches of snow to parts of Nebraska, Minnesota and the Dakotas. Tens of thousands were left without power for weeks.

Pre-Thanksgiving Nor’easter of 2006

This storm brought the earliest snowfall ever recorded in parts of South Carolina and Georgia while delivering damaging winds and coastal flooding along the southeast Atlantic Coast. Gusts from this storm ranged from 50-80mph, which damaged property up and down the coast. The storm would later move north and east impacting the mid-Atlantic and New England.

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Jason Pelletier

Town: Harwinton, CT  

Reporting for WXedge since February 2012.

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