MARQUETTE - If the current weather forecast holds, this year's Thanksgiving Day will likely be a contender for the record books not for low temperatures, heavy snowfall or high winds, but rather, for warmth.
National Weather Service forecasters in Negaunee Township are predicting a high temperature reading there on Thursday of 56 degrees. That temperature would surpass a 52-degree high logged in 2006 and would be the highest temperature recorded for Thanksgiving since the year 2000.
Unseasonably warm temperatures are forecast through Thursday before the mercury is expected to plunge back into the upper 30s for daytime highs beginning Friday.
A far cry from this Thursday’s predicted weather, snow and cold greeted the participants in an annual Thanksgiving Day football game in 2005. (Journal file photo)
The NWS office recently compiled Thanksgiving weather statistics dating back to 2000, showing Thanksgiving 2005 to have the lowest daytime high, which was 18 degrees. That day also had 8.8 inches of snowfall, with a total of 13 inches of snow on the ground - both significant for the 12-year period - both of which were the results of a low pressure system crossing the state and Arctic air blowing south.
Forecasters said the low brought abundant moisture and lift to generate precipitation.
"Once the low began to exit the Upper Great Lakes by early Thanksgiving morning, cold Arctic air shot across Lake Superior, generating lake effect snow showers," forecasters said in a Thanksgiving Day statistics review. "In addition to the heavy snowfall, tight pressure gradients caused winds to gust in the 35-55 mph range, leading to a 'storm force wind' warning on Lake Superior and wind advisories across parts of Upper Michigan. The winds, coupled with lake effect snow, also led to blizzard warnings for areas near Lake Superior."
Twenty-four hour snowfall totals ranged from .9 inches in Gladstone and 1.7 inches in Amasa to 10 inches in Cooks and 16 inches in Wetmore. Wind gusts hit 55 mph in Copper Harbor; 50 in Munising; 45 at Sawyer International Airport; 48 at Northern Michigan University; and a peak of 64 mph at Stannard Rock in Lake Superior.
In 2009, 2006 and 2001, there was no snow measured on the ground at the NWS office in Negaunee Township. A trace was recorded in 2004 and only one inch in 2003 and 2007.
The weather service said the top five snowiest Thanksgiving weeks were 1991 with 35.9 inches; 2001 had 33.1 inches; 2005 with 17.2 inches; 1966 recorded 16 inches; and 15.6 inches of snow fell during 2002. The weather service maintains records dating back to 1961.
During that snowiest Thanksgiving week in 1991, the amount of snow falling on Thanksgiving Day measured only .2 inches.
John Pepin can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206.