Most of the Northeastern United States feels like Siberia right now due to a blast of Arctic air that is pushing temperatures 15 to 25 degrees colder below trend. As a result, 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
The cold weather will be supplied by a burst of arctic air that produced locally blinding snow squalls across parts of the interior Northeast on Wednesday. The squalls diminished to spotty flurries south and east of the Appalachians.
"Anomalously cold weather will impact the I-95 corridor Thursday and Friday. Record low temperatures have already been broken Thursday morning across New England, and record low maximum temperatures are expected in many cities Thursday. This combined with winds gusting 15-30 mph will make it feel below zero at times through Friday morning," said Ed Vallee, head meteorologist at Vallee Weather Consulting.
Temperatures during Thanksgiving morning started off near zero Fahrenheit 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. However, AccuWeather RealFeel Temperatures throughout the Northeast will be 10 to 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.
According to Accuweather, 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. In New York City, there have been less than a handful of Thanksgiving days with a forecast morning low in the teens F 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.
That means that today will be just shy of the record, with AccuWeather projecting a morning low of 19 and an afternoon high of 27 in New York City this Thanksgiving Day.
Or maybe not: those relying on observations from New York City's Central Park should know that the anemometer is not working and the site is currently inaccurately registering calm winds. RealFeel Temperatures are in the single digits and teens in the New York City area, with winds averaging between 15 and 30 mph this Thanksgiving Day.
Other cities are also bracing for records: 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 13 and a high of 23 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, D.C., 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. The coldest Thanksgiving on record in Philadelphia was in 1901, when the high was 27 and the low was 20.
Most likely temperatures will be within a few degrees of these levels from Washington, D.C., to Philadelphia.
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On Wednesday, Washington, D.C. activated its Cold Weather Preparedness plan through daybreak on Friday, providing warm facilities to the public and overnight shelters for the homeless. Those waiting in the parking lot of their favorite local department store ahead of tonight's Black Friday sales, however, are on their own.
Extreme cold combined with frigid temperatures will be the norm for much of the Northeast, while northerly winds could present a potentially dangerous situation. Wind chills will be in the mid/low teen around DC on Thursday evening, and the National Weather Service (NWS) warns of conditions that could produce frostbite.
Find the extreme cold. Hint: it’s all in the Northeast! Multiple low temperature records broken this morning. pic.twitter.com/NbiFzFGt2J— Ed Vallee | Vallee Wx Consulting (@EdValleeWx) November 22, 2018
Maryland announced a hypothermia-related death in Garrett County Wednesday night. Officials urged travelers to pack cold-weather emergency car kits during the holiday commute.
“Frostbite can happen in minutes, especially on the extremities such as fingers, toes, nose and ears but can affect any area of exposed skin,” the NWS said. “If you must go out, try to cover every part of your body.”
Bitterly cold air will move into the area thru tonight. Gusty NW winds will make it will feel like the teens this morning and 20s this afternoon. If partaking in #Thanksgiving festivities outside, be sure to bundle up in layers to protect from the cold! https://t.co/3BbiA2uEB1 pic.twitter.com/k2TwdVwsub— NWS DC/Baltimore (@NWS_BaltWash) November 22, 2018
NBC Washington meteorologist Steve Prinzivall said, "the culprit is a powerful Arctic cold front plowing through the area tonight... Although this will not bring any rainfall, it will open the gates for northerly winds to usher in the coldest air since last February.”
And if the Baltimore–Washington Metropolitan Area is about to experience record cold temperatures, one can imagine what portions of New York, New Hampshire, and Vermont feel like, with temperatures forecast to drop as low as 10 degrees below zero.
NWS Low Temps
NWS High Temps
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.
While winds will be much less on Friday compared to Thanksgiving Day, even a little breeze will bite.
Meanwhile, over the weekend, there is a chance for severe weather in the Northeast that could turn the traffic holiday commute into a nightmare for some places.
As for the rest of the country, wind and rain are expected for the Midwest, South, and Southeast. In the Rockies, there could be fresh snow for skiing. California, Oregon, and Washington state should expect some rain showers as well.
After the current burst of freezing air passes, it should be smooth sailing... for about 10 days. Vallee forecasts that the next storm threat to Northeast could come as early as the first week of December.
Next intriguing storm threat in my mind for the coast comes ~12/3. Available cold, potent disturbance moving through...winter storm potential? pic.twitter.com/okmkQA5r4E— Ed Vallee | Vallee Wx Consulting (@EdValleeWx) November 21, 2018