Give thanks that you didn’t wake up in the Northeast this morning. A strong Arctic front swept through the area yesterday, ushering in an air mass straight off the express train from Siberia. Record lows were tied or broken in 38 Northeast cities across eleven states.
This morning’s frigid temperatures weren’t just historical for the date, but also for the holiday. Most notable this was the second coldest Thanksgiving morning in New York City. This morning’s low also made for the coldest Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade since the parade’s inception in 1924.
[Prelim Stat for Thanksgiving] The low temp this AM at Central Park was 19° tying Nov 28, 1901 & Nov 30, 1876 for the 2nd coldest low temp for Thanksgiving Holiday. The coldest low (15°) occurred on Nov 30, 1871. Updated info will be provided once the final high & low occurs.
— NWS New York NY (@NWSNewYorkNY) November 22, 2018
It wasn’t just temperatures in the single digits and teens that made this morning so brutal. It was also the wind. Many New Englanders braced for sub-zero wind chills as 20 mph winds blew through. The blustery conditions could have grounded the balloons in the Macy’s Parade. The helium-filled balloons won’t fly down the streets of Manhattan if sustained winds are stronger than 23 mph or gusts greater than 34 mph. Fortunately the winds relaxed just ahead of the parade’s start time, and the all-clear was given.
If you were watching this morning and thought the balloons were flying a little low, you might be right. When it gets too cold the helium inside the balloon compresses. Handlers will often “top off” the balloon on parade day. The cold air still might have been a little too much for this year’s featured characters.