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Farmers Almanac
The 2014 Farmers Almanac
Farmers' Almanac

Historic Thanksgiving Storms

Historic Thanksgiving Storms

Several years ago, the Farmers’ Almanac suggested that we move Thanksgiving up a month and celebrate it in October. The suggestion was based on a few compelling reasons one of which was the weather. Late November weather, in many of areas of the country, often means cold, stormy, snowy conditions.

Here’s a look at a few memorable and historical storms that wreaked havoc on Thanksgiving events and travel:

The Great Appalachian Storm of 1950
November 24 – 30, 1950

This autumn storm started out just before Thanksgiving in 1950 as a seemingly “normal” weather event and turned deadly. The storm brought significant winds and heavy rains east of the Appalachian Mountains and blizzard conditions to the western slopes of the mountain chain.  Cleveland, Ohio, and areas of West Virginia received more than 2 feet of snow in three days.  The storm also set record cold temperatures in Florida, (24 degrees), Georgia (3 degrees) and other areas.

Chicago’s White Thanksgiving in 1975
November 26-27

Chicago is known for its extreme weather especially cold, wintry conditions, but the Thanksgiving storm of 1975 was one for the record books. The snow started to fall the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and when it ended Thursday morning there was more than 8 inches at Midway Airport.  The storm severely impacted holiday travel.  In 2004, Chicago also got snow in time for Thanksgiving but this time received about 4.3 inches, which was enough to cause some travel nightmares.  According to records, the “Windy City” has only seen 11 white Thanksgivings since 1884.

Denver’s Tukey Day Blizzard 1983
This holiday storm was one of the biggest Thanksgiving storms to ever hit a major city. 20 inches of snow fell that Thanksgiving holiday which, even though Denver is no stranger to winter weather, caught many people off guard.

New York City’s White Thanksgiving 1989
The parade marched on but a few floats couldn’t withstand the almost four inches of snow that fell on New York City on Thanksgiving Thursday, 1989 (11/23/89).  This storm broke records, as it was the first Thanksgiving Day snowstorm since 1938. Snow also fell from Virginia up into New England that Thanksgiving holiday causing some football games to be cancelled and tough holiday travel.

What about this year?  Find out here

Photo courtesy of the Massillon Museum (Mary Myers, donor)


1 Vito Mezzapelli { 11.23.14 at 6:51 pm }

What about the snow storm that hit Toronto April 4,1979?

2 Misty Meade { 11.23.14 at 6:41 pm }

What about the blizzard of 78? Does anyone remember the blizzard of 78. I was 5 when Ohio received a blizzard.

3 Eddie M { 11.23.14 at 6:36 pm }

We had Thanksgiving Day snowstorms in upstate NY 100 miles north of NYC in 1971, 1972, 1978, 1989, 2002 and 2005 ranging from just a few inches to over a foot.

4 cheryl { 11.23.14 at 6:08 pm }

cant forget 1971 blizzard in november in northeastern pennslyvania

5 Roberta { 11.21.12 at 12:11 pm }

I was 7, visiting my relatives in Cleveland, Ohio just for Thanksgiving weekend 1950. Instead of driving, my Dad thought taking the train would be fun. We had to stay for over a week but the train tracks were still impassable back to Elkins. So we took the Greyhound Bus. Because the bus was so crowded the 4 of us could not sit together, my 2 year old sister never had a seat to herself. In many instances, my father stood so that women or elderly men could sit. The trip took 4 hours longer than expected and fortunately my grandmother gave us a large bag of sandwiches and bananas because at the bus stops, the dining areas were not open.

6 Bob DeLoach { 12.12.11 at 4:50 pm }

Wanted to know about weather in trenton tn on thanksgiving day in 1950

7 arelene staples { 11.16.11 at 8:39 pm }

hi i’m concerned about winter what does it look like for rustburg va. 24588 area near lynchburg regional airport don’t like snow so tell me we are having a mild winter please
thanks arelene staples

8 IMSLIM123 { 11.16.11 at 10:23 am }

The Older Generation always went by the Farmer’s Almanac, and, I have always noticed the Wolly-Worm over the years of there different Colors…the Brown’s, & Black’s..(If it’s all Brown, it will be a Mild Winter, if it has both colors, it will be a mixed Winter), and recently I have seen 3 Wolly-Worms, and they were all 3 Black..meaning we are in for a very long, cold, & Snowy Winter….

9 Scarlette { 11.16.11 at 9:57 am }

Who wants to bet that this year those records will be broken?

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