While most of us dream of a White Christmas, very few are dreaming of a snowy Thanksgiving. But here are a few storms that definitely made Thanksgiving one for the record books! Check out these memorable Thanksgiving weather events of the past.
The Portland Gale of 1898
One of the worst maritime disasters in New England’s history occurred on the night of November 26, 1898. That evening, approximately 200 passengers boarded the luxurious steamship, the SS Portland, for an overnight trip from Boston, Massachusetts to Portland, Maine to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday.
As the Portland prepared to set out to sea, a powerful storm heading up from the south combined with another storm heading from the Great Lakes. The combination produced a “hundred year storm” with hurricane-force winds and a foot of snow. By the time the sun rose the next day the Portland, along with an estimated 150 other ships, lay at the bottom of the sea, resulting in more than 500 fatalities.
The Great Appalachian Storm of 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.
. . . And The Blizzard Bowl of 1950
In this same storm, Ohio was buried under a record amount of snow. Nearly the entire state saw 10 inches and some parts got up to 30 inches. Add a 40 mph wind and you can bet everyone was celebrating inside. That is until Saturday when the famous “Blizzard Bowl” was held in Columbus. Ohio State faced Michigan in front of 50,000 fans that braved 35 mph winds and a temperature of only 5 degrees Fahrenheit. Michigan won 9-3 on 27 total yards and never even scored a first down.
Chicago’s White Thanksgiving of 1975
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.
This holiday storm was one of the biggest Thanksgiving storms to ever hit a major city. Twenty 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 canceled and tough holiday travel.
Lake Effect “Snowvember” Storm 2014
Residents in parts of western New York got clobbered with a ferocious snowstorm the week before Thanksgiving. The magnitude of it was quite a surprise to many who, while most likely used to large amounts of snowfall in that region, probably weren’t prepared for the 5 feet that fell on Tuesday, November 18, followed by another 2 feet around the eastern Lake Erie and Lake Ontario regions on Thursday, November 20th. While not quite a Thanksgiving storm, it did disrupt travel for those trying to visit relatives for the holiday.
Find out what we’re predicting for your Thanksgiving weather here!