Thanksgiving 2013: Special Holiday This Year
November 28, 2013
By WeatherBug Meteorologist, Chad Merrill
The date for Thanksgiving this year is significant for two important reasons, one of which will not occur again for many millennia.
Thanksgiving has been an annual tradition in the United States since 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the holiday to fall on the last Thursday of November.
On December 26, 1941, under the command of President Roosevelt, Congress passed a law declaring the holiday to be changed to the fourth Thursday of November. Retailers were the main driver pushing the change. Their argument: when the month`s last Thursday falls on November 30, the traditional holiday season between Thanksgiving and Christmas was one week shorter.
Since the law was passed, the earliest possible date for Thanksgiving is November 22 (which occurred last year) and the latest Thanksgiving can fall is November 28 (this year). What`s more, based on the solar calendar that Judaism follows, Hanukkah can be no earlier than November 28. Since the two holidays happen to occur on the same date this year, a pop-culture term "Thanksgivukkah," has been coined to describe this convergence. The last time Hanukkah and Thanksgiving occurred on the same day was 1888 and some experts say it may not happen again until at least the year 79,811!
Another fact this year will be fewer days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, which could have an impact on the holiday shopping season. According to the National Retail Federation, retailers can make 20 to 40 percent of their annual sales between Thanksgiving and Christmas. In response to the shorter holiday season this year, a growing number of retailers are opening their doors to shoppers on Thanksgiving evening. How many people plan to shop on Thursday? One quarter of the respondents of a NRF survey indicated they plan to shop on Thanksgiving Day. This amounts to 33 million people packing shopping malls and stores Thursday to find that perfect gift for family and friends.
Since Thanksgiving is the closest it can be to Christmas, does this mean shoppers may have to dig their way to the shopping malls and bundle up in fur coats to stay warm?
Well, in New England November 28 is a notorious weather day. On that day in 1921, a prolific winter storm coated many spots with ice and Worchester, Mass., tried to scrap 3 inches of ice off everything. Northern New England got socked with more than 2 feet of snow. In total, the storm caused $20- million in damage to power lines, telephone lines and trees while property damage tallied in the millions as well.
The date also has significance in the Central Plains, Mississippi Valley, and along the Northern Tier. A strong winter storm produced 20 to 40 foot waves on Lake Superior on November 28, 1960, with gusts measuring 73 mph in Duluth, Minn. The city was also buried under a foot of wind-driven snow. Not to be outdone, a strong winter storm on this date in 1987 produced almost a foot of snow from Nebraska into Iowa, while freezing rain left roads treacherous in the Twin Cities. In the storm`s wake, the temperature dipped to minus-18 degrees in Laramie, Wyo.
Just because November 28 is only two days before the start of "Meteorological Winter" (the three coldest months of the year) doesn`t mean the U.S. is not prone to severe thunderstorms. As a matter of fact, on November 28, 1988, early -morning thunderstorms spawned five tornadoes, one of which ripped through Raleigh, N.C. That tornado traveled 83 miles, killing four people and injuring 154 others. It caused more than $77-million in damage.
Since temperatures trend colder the later we move into November, does that mean there is a better chance for a White Turkey Day in the colder parts of the U.S.?
The answer is: yes and no... It depends on the city. For instance, Boston averages 0.7 inches of snow for November 22 (the earliest date for Thanksgiving). Almost a week later on November 28, Boston averages 0.9 inches of snow. On the contrary, Buffalo averages 0.14 inch of precipitation on November 22 but only 0.13 inch for November 28. If this precipitation were melted-down snowfall, then, yes, Buffalo has a greater probability of snow on the earliest date for Thanksgiving compared to this year`s November 28 arrival.
Temperatures are more supportive for snow in the Northern Tier when Thanksgiving is later in the month. Minneapolis averages a high temperature of 37 degrees on November 22 with a cooler 34 degrees by November 28. The average low temperature in the Nation`s Capital drops from 39 degrees to 37 degrees between November 22 and November 28.
This holiday season really is quite unique with Thanksgiving and Chanukah lining up perfectly. Whether you are enjoying a turkey dinner, lighting the Menorah, or searching for a new flat screen TV, you may want to pause and remark on the fact that no one else will be doing all of this on the same day for thousands of years to come!
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Story Image: Oven roasted turkey is a common fare for Christmas and Thanksgiving celebrations. (M. Rehemtulla, Wikimedia Commons)
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