Thanksgiving Day weather records

Raise your hand if you remember a warm and rainy Thanksgiving here. How about one that was sunny, but cold? Can you remember one when a few snowflakes flittered through the air? In the 20-plus years I’ve lived in this area, I think I’ve seen all three types of Thanksgiving Days. So, what’s normal for us?

To answer this question, I looked at the North Carolina Climate Office’s Holiday Climatology page for Thanksgiving. There are a couple of things to remember in this case: first, the actual date of Thanksgiving changes yearly since it is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November. Sometimes that date falls pretty early in the month as it does this year. Sometimes it’s closer to the end of the month. That change makes it difficult to use the 30-year averages that meteorologists typically use when talking about “normal” weather for a specific date.

The second thing to keep in mind is that Wake Forest, Creedmoor, and Butner – the three locations I usually focus my forecasting on – do not have long-lived official weather recording sites used by the Climate Office. So, I have to look at Raleigh and Oxford as proxies for our towns.

That being said, here are some historical Thanksgiving weather data to use as trivia during your family gathering:

At North Carolina State University in Raleigh, records have been kept since 1892. Our warmest Thanksgiving on record there was November 28, 1985 with a low of 62 degrees Fahrenheit and a high of 78 degrees. Our coldest on record was November 26, 1970, when residents woke to a low of 17 degrees and only saw a high of 41. November 26, 1992 was the wettest with 1.97 inches of rain.

Typically, Raleigh’s minimum temperature for Thanksgiving ranges from 30.5 to 46 degrees, and the maximum runs from 51 to 64.5 degrees. So, that coldest Raleigh Thanksgiving mentioned above was downright frigid with the highest temperature for the day being in the range of our typical morning low.

The weather records for Oxford have been kept in two different places. The first location served for the years 1920 through 1994. The second location picked up the records from March 1994 through the present.

The warmest Thanksgiving Day in either location occurred November 25, 2004, with a high temperature of 69 degrees and a low of 58. The coldest was November 23, 2000, with a high of 42 degrees and a low of 24. Back on November 28, 1963, 1.2 inches of rain fell in Oxford, making it the town’s wettest Thanksgiving Day on record.

Interestingly, the range for typical maximum and minimum temperatures vary by location with the older, no-longer-used site trending much warmer than the new one. The difference may be in the environment surrounding the instrument site locations – perhaps rural versus in town. It may also be in the type of instruments used. I will admit that I don’t know. However, I will give the ranges for the currently used site because I assume the location and instruments are more accurate given what we’ve learned over the years about proper placement and calibration.

Oxford’s typical maximum temperature range since 1994 is 45 to 60.5 degrees Fahrenheit. The range for the typical morning low is 27.5 to 41 degrees.


No matter the weather this year or where you’re spending the day, have a wonderful Thanksgiving!