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Long Island weather: Record arctic cold likely on Thanksgiving Day

The wind chill could make early morning temperatures feel like the single digits, as in 3, 4, 5 degrees, the National Weather Service said.

News 12 Long Island meteorologist Rich Von Ohlen has the holiday forecast. (Credit: News 12 Long Island)

Thursday may be bringing the traditional warm moments with friends and family, but this year’s Thanksgiving Day could be going into the record books for delivering an early season blast of arctic cold. 

Gusty winds that accompany such blasts could also be messing with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, meaning some giant character balloons could be flown at a lower height or scratched altogether. The final call is to be made in the morning “based on the current weather data available from the parade route” and other sources, a parade representative said.

Anyone out around 6 or 7 a.m. can expect to be greeted by temperatures in the upper teens, feeling more like the single digits, as in 3, 4, 5 degrees, with wind chill factored in, the National Weather Service said in a Wednesday evening briefing.

Conditions should be similar by midmorning, when dedicated outdoors types may be tossing around turkey bowl footballs or huddled together on Manhattan sidewalks along the parade route.

Regionwide, winds of 15 to 25 mph from the west to northwest are likely, gusting to 30 to 35 mph through Thursday, the weather service said.

Clearly, hypothermia is going to be a big concern for those who will be outside for any length of time.

“It’s going to feel brutal,” being the first blast of the season, so people aren't yet acclimated to the cold, said Jay Engle, weather service meteorologist in Upton. You know the routine — dress in layers, he said.

“If you are attending the parade on Thursday, dress warmly,” meaning hats, scarves and gloves, said NYC Emergency Management Commissioner Joseph Esposito, in a statement.

“Keep your fingertips, earlobes and nose covered,” he said. And, “listen to your body. If you’re at increased risk for injury or illness due to the extreme cold, significantly limit your time outdoors.”

The expected high for later in the day is the mid-20s — feeling more like 10 to 15 — and would be about 25 degrees below normal at Long Island MacArthur Airport, which is 51 degrees.

The record low for the day is 20 degrees, set in 1987, and the record for coolest high is 31 degrees, set in 2008.

 As for where this early blast of chill is coming from, look no farther than Siberia, the weather service said in a Wednesday morning tweet.

Based on a trajectory model, the cold air originated there about a week ago, traveled over the Arctic Ocean to northernmost Canada and “is now being forced south toward us via a large dip south in the upper jet stream.” 

It’s not unusual to see frigid air from that part of the world make its way to the area, sometimes aiming first for the central United States with air moderating somewhat before reaching the Island, said David Stark, weather service meteorologist in Upton.

However, the more likely time for such blasts is later in the season, he said.

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