Posted by: pyeager | November 10, 2009

Winter Storm for Thanksgiving Day?

Note from November 19: More recent posts on Thanksgiving weather have been written since this post was first published. Please see What Thanksgiving Day Storm (November 15) and Thanksgiving Day Forecast–No Big Storm (November 19).

Since Thanksgiving is the first of the so-called winter holidays–and the days immediately prior to the day are the busiest travel days of the year–I thought it would be enjoyable to take a look at a long-range computer forecast map for Thanksgiving Day.

Notice that I said “enjoyable,” not informative! Long-range computer forecast models are known for their lack of consistency, and such long-range forecast models are more helpful to us (meteorologists) forecasting the overall pattern than the specifics for a given day.

But how much fun is that? Let’s look at the forecast.

Thanksgiving Day Forecasts

Let’s take a look at what the computer is forecasting  for Thanksgiving Day, which includes the forecast of a major winter-like storm:

  • White Thanksgiving from central and eastern Kentucky northeastward to upstate New York
  • Rain changing to snow from northern New England to West Virginia
  • Winter-like cold in the upper-Midwest and northern Plains
  • A cold front, with thunderstorms, moving through Florida, with cold air pouring into the Deep South
  • A storm brushing northern Washington with light rain
  • Sunny, dry, and warm in the Desert Southwest and California

Here’s the map (the 364-hour GFS model, for those who care about such things) for Thanksgiving morning (8 a.m. EST).

Initial Thanksgiving Day forecast by GFS model (November 10, 12z run)

Updates Later

I’ll show another map in about a week, and we’ll also compare it to what actually happens–unless I have too much turkey.

–Paul Yeager

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Responses

  1. You have to love the 16-day GFS. When the current weather is relatively tame, you can always count on the long-range models to produce some sort of meteorological carnage in the 300-hr+ forecasts.

    Of course, given that the weather has been relatively calm in the last couple weeks, it does seem as if the pattern should become more active soon. To the credit of the model, it has continued to show a trough of cooler temperatures in the eastern U.S. around Thanksgiving for the last couple of runs.

    I do have to drive over 500 miles on the Tuesday prior, so I can’t say I’m really looking forward to a storm if it happened to verify.

    • Meteorological carnage–lol!

      When I forecast daily, I was always happy if the long-range models were consistent enough to give some guidance for the trend, and since it’s a day of note, we’ll keep an eye on it this time.

  2. We plan a trip to WV, every year for the week of Thanksgiving. The kids always look forward to seeing snow, as do I. So I find myself checking the long range forecast, in the weeks leading up to our trip. Thanks for the promising forecast, I hope it is spot on, as do the kids.

  3. Hey! I love your weather blog! My birthday is this Saturday, and I just love this time of year with the weather changing so drastically. I live in Puget Sound, WA, so I’ll have to go find a 364 hr weather map for my region to see what it looks like. Thanks again & keep up the great work!
    Kristin

    • Thanks for the kind words–and happy birthday!

      You can find the link to the computer model, including the 364, on this page: http://www.nco.ncep.noaa.gov/pmb/nwprod/analysis/. It will be under the GFS, 4 panel charts. The times across the top (00 UTC, 06 UTC, etc.) are the times when the computer model is run, which correspond, from left to right, to 4 p.m. PST (00 UTC, 10 p.m. PST (06 UTC), 4 a.m. PST (12 UTC), and 10 a.m. PST (18 UTC). The 364 should be available a few hours after those times.


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