What are the odds of a white Thanksgiving?
In order to qualify for a white Thanksgiving, there must either be at least 1 inch of snow on the ground on Thanksgiving morning or falling snow must accumulate to at least 0.1 inches on that day.
I'm dreaming of a white… Thanksgiving?
That doesn't quite have the same ring as a white Christmas, but believe it or not, some parts of the U.S. actually have notable odds of seeing snow on Thanksgiving each year.
Dr. Brian Brettschneider, an Alaska-based climatologist, compiled the data found on the map below, illustrating the historical probability of a white Thanksgiving.
In order to qualify for a white Thanksgiving, there must either be at least 1 inch of snow on the ground on Thanksgiving morning or falling snow must accumulate to at least 0.1 inches on that day. This is the same criteria the National Weather Service uses to define a white Christmas.
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The map is based on historical weather data averaged over many years. Brettschneider noted snowfall observations had to date back at least 40 years for a location to be included in this analysis.
In the Lower 48, the northern and central Rockies have the highest odds of encountering snow on Thanksgiving, ranging from a 50% to 70% chance in the highest peaks west of Denver to a 70% to 90% chance in Yellowstone National Park in northwestern Wyoming and southwestern Montana. The highest elevations of Yellowstone have a 90% to 100% chance of a white Thanksgiving.
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Much of the northern tier of the U.S., from northern Washington to northern New England, has a 30% to 50% chance of Turkey-Day snow. A 50% to 70% chance exists in parts of northeastern North Dakota, northern Minnesota, northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The odds are even higher, 70% to 90%, in the western U.P. of Michigan, according to Brettschneider.
There's a 50% to 70% chance of a white Thanksgiving in portions of northern Maine, northern New Hampshire, northern Vermont and the highest elevations of the Adirondacks in upstate New York. However, most of the Northeast and Midwest have only a 10% to 30% chance of snow on Turkey Day each year. Farther south into the mid-Atlantic, Ohio Valley, mid-Mississippi Valley and central Plains, the odds of a snowy Turkey Day are less than 10%.
Most of the South has never witnessed a white Thanksgiving, though the odds are between 1% and 5% as far south as the Texas Panhandle and the southern half of New Mexico.
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If you really want to wear snow boots while you eat your turkey, head north to Alaska or northern Canada, where there is a 90% to 100% chance of a white Thanksgiving in many areas.