By: Chief Meteorologist Eric FisherBy Eric Fisher

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Get the cold turkey puns out of your system now. We’re about to dip into the cooler for the holiday and not just for a seasonal brew. A chunk of bitter arctic air takes direct aim at New England. This lovely fall we’ve been enjoying just keeps bringing the good stuff (not). This is some truly impressive cold and may set some major records here locally.

gfs hourly 0 5 days north america tropopause theta Frigid Thanksgiving Air Poised To Set Records

A piece of the tropospheric polar vortex breaks off and swings right down across New England for the holiday

A chunk of the tropospheric polar vortex will break off and sweep down across New England, bringing an air mass you might expect to see in January or February but not often seen this early. The only real question is exact timing of the coldest air. High temperatures at midnight that are slightly warmer than records are possible, but timing seems a little faster as of this writing. Regardless it’s going to be uncomfortable for most as you head out for the holiday.

nam wrf 3 km new england simulated radar1 Frigid Thanksgiving Air Poised To Set Records

Snow squalls will be possible Wednesday late-afternoon and evening as the arctic front blows through

The leading edge of this cold is a powerful arctic front which may have some intense snow squalls ahead of it Wednesday afternoon/evening. We’ll have to keep a close eye on these as a fast burst of heavy snow, albeit brief, can have a major impact on a busy travel day. Current timing of the front looks like 3p to 7p at the moment. Stay tuned for updates as we get closer to game-time.

windchill Frigid Thanksgiving Air Poised To Set Records

January? Sure. November? So much nope. Graphic: WBZ-TV

Then the wind kicks up and in comes the polar plunge. By Thanksgiving morning, we’ll have temperatures in the 0s and 10s. Combine that with the gusty northwest winds and wind chill values will be -10 to 10F. Not exactly comfortable for all those big high school football match-ups so layer up and bring the hot chocolate! We’ve had some colder Patriots games in winter but this is not something we’ve had to deal with on Thanksgiving much in the past 100 years.

850s Frigid Thanksgiving Air Poised To Set Records

The core of the cold on Thanksgiving is very anomalous for November! These are temperatures a few thousand feet aloft

With temperatures down to -21C at 850mb, we’ll struggle to reach 20 degrees during the day on Thanksgiving with 10s for highs across the high terrain. This frigid air mass traveling over the mild coastal waters will likely produce some snow showers/squalls from Lower to Outer Cape Cod with otherwise sunny skies for the rest of the region.

How about those records? There are some big ones on the table.

Coldest *November* high temperature on record

Boston:                              10F (1875)

Blue Hill Observatory:      19F (1929)

Worcester:                         20F (1958)

Providence:                       23F (1929)

Anytime you threaten *monthly* records it’s very impressive. Daily records at the least seem likely. I looked at Worcester where I’d say there’s the highest chance of setting a monthly record and noticed an interesting stat. In the past 7 years, we’ll have set the record for coldest Thanksgiving, coldest Valentine’s Day, coldest New Year’s Day…and the warmest Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. Holiday extremes!

As high pressure settles overhead Thursday night into Friday, clear skies and calmer winds will make for widespread single digits. There may even be a few subzero temps in the coldest spots. Black Friday shoppers will be of hardy stock if they spend all night out in that.

high Frigid Thanksgiving Air Poised To Set Records

Arctic high pressure directly overhead on Friday

Bright sunshine and lighter winds on Friday will make it more comfortable, but we’ll still struggle to reach the freezing mark at the coast and will likely stay stuck in the 20s across the interior. Yowza.

A rebound is in store for the weekend with highs in the 40s Saturday and Sunday with parts of SE Mass possibly into the 50s by Sunday afternoon. If I were a plumber I’d keep the phone handy as major cold giving way to a quick thaw could lead to some bursting pipe issues around the area.

 

Eric Fisher

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