Thanksgiving Day Climatology in the Twin Cities:
Because Thanksgiving Day occurs at the transition period between autumn and winter,
Thanksgiving weather can be balmy to brutal. A typical Thanksgiving Day in the Twin
Cities has high temperatures in the 30's and at least a bit of filtered sunshine.
Having a mild day in the 50's on Thanksgiving Day is relatively rare, looking at the historical
record back to 1891. A maximum of 50 or more has happened only nine times in 114 years, or
about once every 13 years or so. The warmest Thanksgiving Day is a tie of 62 degrees set in
1914 and 1922. The mildest recent Thanksgiving Day is 58 degrees on November 26, 1998.
On the other side of the spectrum, it is common to have a high temperature below 32. The average
Thanksgiving Day temperature is right around freezing. What about extremely cold Thanksgivings?
It is about as likely to have a minimum at or below zero on Thanksgiving Day, as it is to have a
maximum of 50 or above. It has occurred eight times in the past 114 years. The coldest
Thanksgiving Day temperature is eight degrees below zero. This has happened three times,
1893, 1905 and 1985.
Measurable snow fell on 24 of the past Thanksgivings back to 1891, about every five years or so.
The most snow that fell on Thanksgiving was five inches in 1970.
Historically, about half of Thanksgivings have at least one inch of snow on the ground.
The deepest snow pack is a tie with 1921 and 1983, both with 10 inches on the ground by Turkey Day.
It occasionally rains on Thanksgiving Day as well. In 1896, a two-day event in the
Twin Cities doused Thanksgiving travelers with nearly three inches of rain.
Below is the year by year climatology for Thanksgiving Day for the Twin Cities 1891-2005.
*Note, it appears as though Minnesota, having Republican Harold Stassen as Governor,
did not follow Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Proclamation to have Thanksgiving
on the third Thursday in November in 1939. That year Minnesota celebrated Thanksgiving
on November 30. The Governor seemed to have a change of heart for the next two years
and went with Roosevelt’s recommendation and had Thanksgiving on November 21 in 1940
and November 20 in 1941.
The U.S. Congress in 1941 established that the Thanksgiving would occur annually
on the fourth Thursday of November, which is sometimes the last Thursday and sometimes
the next to last. On November 26, 1941 President Roosevelt signed this bill into U.S.
law. This is when the holiday is still observed today.