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Don Paul: Brace yourself for a frigid Thanksgiving

The coldest high temperature ever for a Buffalo Thanksgiving is 22 degrees, recorded twice in 1903 and 1938. We’ll come close this Thanksgiving. On Sunday, I forecast a Thanksgiving high of 23 degrees. National Weather Service output does not disagree.

We will not set a record for the morning low, but it will be cold enough for Turkey Trotters to chatter some teeth and dentures until they get moving. I’d forecast a morning low of 14. Here's what the National Weather Service is predicting.

There will be two saving graces, sort of. With the center of the Arctic high pressure ridge nearly on top of us, there should be a decent amount of sunshine to help out. And if you look at those lines of equal barometric pressure we call isobars, there won’t be much of a pressure gradient and, therefore, no unbearable wind chill.

That’s not to say wind chill will be absent. I’m just saying it won’t be horrific, and that can make all the difference.

The biggest travel day nationally is said to be the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. The big picture for that day is good, with no weather-related delays expexcted at the big hubs, such as Chicago, Atlanta, Denver, Charlotte or the big East Coast airports. Here is a forecast map for early Wednesday.

That area of low pressure close to us may bring some light snow showers to Boston in the afternoon, but delays due to weather are unlikely. Elsewhere, there may be some rain delays in Seattle, Portland and, yes, San Francisco.


Locally, for early morning Wednesday driving, there will be a little “burst” of snow around the predawn hours into the early part of the day. That will be just enough to make some roads snow covered and slippery. At right is a high-resolution model depiction of that very early snow.

Most models are in good agreement that the accumulation will focus more on the hilly terrain south of the metro area. I do not expect this brush with snow to affect airport operations here for early morning fliers. But if you’re driving to the airport, especially from areas to the south, I suggest you allow extra drive time. This snow will be accompanied by modestly gusty winds, so there may be some blowing snow. West winds at 15 mph with gusts up to 30 mph in the morning may take some modest snow and make it more troublesome early in the day. Activity will diminish in the afternoon as winds veer to northwest and diminish a little. In the afternoon, temperatures will be tumbling through the 20s, with wind chill in the range of 10-15.

As for accumulation, we may see 1 to 2 inches in the metro area for the day, but as mentioned earlier, more will fall to the south.

After another night in the teens Thanksgiving night, we’re on the road to recovery by Friday.

Saturday and Sunday will bring us seasonable temperatures, with high temps in the mid-40s and some rain showers moving in during Saturday and continuing, off and on, for parts of Sunday.

Nationally, on the big travel day returning home, that low off the Virginia coast could cause some air traffic delays in Washington and Baltimore, with some wind thrown in depending on the intensity of the coastal low. Locally, there should be no weather-related problems at our airport. If you’re going to the Bills-Jaguars game, it may get a little wet at times. The southerly breeze doesn’t look to be a major factor in the kicking/passing game.

As you trudge back to work next Monday, we should still be catching a thermal break.

But see that next batch of Arctic air over the northern plains? I’ll give you one guess where that’s heading by Tuesday-Wednesday.

Hey! Watch that language!

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