Coldest Thanksgiving in 7 years; milder weekend ahead

Light snow chance north of Twin Cities Saturday.

Temperatures Thursday afternoon
Temperatures Thursday afternoon.
Oklahoma Mesonet

Happy Thanksgiving Minnesota.

Chilly Canadian high pressure is in place across the Upper Midwest today. As you can see on the temperature map above, blue is the dominant color across our region. Sub-freezing temperatures push as far south as the suburbs of Chicago, southern Iowa, to Omaha.

Our Thanksgiving air mass this year is the coldest in 7 years. The last time the Twin Cities had a high temperature on Thanksgiving colder than today was 2014 when the high was just 10 degrees. The low that morning was minus 4!

Here’s a great summary of Thanksgiving climatology from the Minnesota Climate Working Group.

Because Thanksgiving Day occurs at the transition period between autumn and winter, Thanksgiving weather can be balmy to brutal. A typical Thanksgiving Day in the Twin Cities has high temperatures in the 30's and at least a bit of filtered sunshine.

Having a mild day in the 50's on Thanksgiving Day is relatively rare, looking at the historical record back to 1872. A maximum of 50 or more has happened only eleven times in 148 years, or about once every 13 years or so. The warmest Thanksgiving Day is a tie of 62 degrees in 1914 and 1922. The mildest recent Thanksgiving Day was 60 degrees on November 22, 2012. This tied 1939 as the third warmest Thanksgiving back to 1872 for the Twin Cities.

On the other side of the spectrum it is common to have a high temperature below 32. The average Thanksgiving Day temperature is right around freezing. What about extremely cold Thanksgivings? Looking at the past 149 years, odds are about the same to have a minimum at or below zero on Thanksgiving Day, as it is to have a maximum of 50 or above. Below-zero lows have occurred ten times in the past 148 years. The coldest Thanksgiving Day minimum temperature was 18 degrees below zero on November 25, 1880. The coldest high temperature was one below zero on November 28, 1872. The last time it was below zero on the morning of Thanksgiving was in 2014, with four below zero. 2014 had the coldest Thanksgiving high temperature since 1930 with a temperature of 10 degrees.

Milder weekend ahead

Temperatures moderate a bit this weekend across Minnesota. Highs Friday reach the 40s again in southwest Minnesota, with mostly 30s elsewhere. This temperature map will be pretty typical for the upcoming weekend.

Forecast high temperatures Friday
Forecast high temperatures Friday.

Light rain or snow showers Saturday

A weak clipper brings a chance of light rain and snow to Minnesota. Most of the snow will be north of the Twin Cities. A few forecast models suggest minor accumulation across parts of northern Minnesota and Wisconsin.

NOAA GFS model Saturday
NOAA GFS model Saturday.
NOAA via tropical tidbits

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s GFS suggests an inch or so is possible by later Saturday.

NOAA GFS model snowfall output
NOAA GFS model snowfall output by Sunday morning.
NOAA via pivotal weather

Looking ahead, next week looks relatively mild once again. Highs will reach the 40s, and possible 50s across parts of southern Minnesota by next Wednesday and Thursday.

Forecast high temperatures Monday
Forecast high temperatures Monday.

It’s been a graceful slide into late fall this year. There are still signs of possible snow toward the end of the first week or second week of December.

The MPR weather team wishes you and your family a great Thanksgiving weekend this year!

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