National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Potential Winter Storm Friday - Significant Impacts To Travel Possible

A winter storm will bear down on the region for Friday, bring snow with several inches of accumulation possible. Storm track could still shift, resulting in a subsequent shift in where the heaviest snows fall. In addition, blowing and drifting could occur along with a smaller threat for freezing precipitation. There will be impacts to travel - plan accordingly. Read More >

Thanksgiving is celebrated on the 4th Thursday in November; therefore, it can occur anywhere from November 22 through November 28.  Below are some Thanksgiving Day weather statistics for La Crosse, WI, and Rochester, MN.

La Crosse, WI:

The following statistics comprise 149 years of data. From 1872 through 1950, the data came from various locations in downtown La Crosse. Since 1950, the data has been gathered at La Crosse Regional Airport. No temperature data was available in 1985.

Thanksgiving in La Crosse, WI
(Period of Record 1872-2020)
1991-2020 Normals
Records
Maximum Temperature
39 to 42°F
Warmest High Temperature
65°F
November 26, 1914
Coldest High Temperature
4°F
November 28, 1872
Minimum Temperature
24 to 27°F
 
Warmest Low Temperature
42°F
November 24, 1966
Coldest Low Temperature
-10°F
November 25, 1880
November 28, 1872
Average Temperature
32 to 35°F
 
Warmest Average Temperature
53.0°F
November 26, 1914
Coldest Average Temperature
-3.0°F
November 28, 1872
Precipitation
0.05" to 0.06"
Wettest
1.10"
November 26, 1896
Snowfall
0.1" to 0.2"
Snowiest
5.5"
November 28, 1918
Snow Depth at 6 AM
0.8"
Most Snow of Ground at 6 AM
15"
November 28, 1991


The odds of having precipitation on Thanksgiving is 49% (73 out of 149).  There has been measurable (0.01" or greater) precipitation on 49 Thanksgivings (32.9%) and trace amounts (less than 0.01") of precipitation 24 Thanksgivings (16.1%).  Measurable precipitation has only fallen once (2015 - 0.50") during the past 27 Thanksgivings (dating back to 1994).

Since 1896, it has snowed on 47 out of 125 (37.6%) Thanksgivings.  Measurable snow (0.1" or greater) has fallen on 25 Thanksgivings (20%) and trace amounts on 22 Thanksgivings (17.6%).  Measurable snow has only fallen once (2015 - 0.1") during the past 27 Thanksgivings (dating back to 1994).

Since 1893, residents have woken up with measurable snow (1/2" or greater) on the ground 29 times (22.8%), trace amounts (less than a 1/2") 18 times (14.2%), and no snow on the ground 80 times (63%). 

Looking back at the 2020 Thanksgiving (November 26), the high temperature was 39°F and the low temperature was 34°F.  No precipitation fell and there was no snow on the ground.  The average wind speed was 7.3 mph.

Rochester, MN:

The following statistics comprise 110 years of data. From 1886 through 1931, the data came from several cooperative observers in the Rochester area. Since 1932, the data has been gathered at Rochester International Airport. No data was taken on Thanksgiving Day from 1889 to 1891, 1901, 1908, 1921 to 1927, and 1933.

Thanksgiving Day in Rochester, MN
(Period of Record 1886-2020
1981-2010 Normals
Records
Maximum Temperature
35 to 38°F
Warmest High Temperature
64°F
November 22, 2012
Coldest High Temperature
7°F
November 27, 1930
Minimum Temperature
20 to 23°F
Warmest Low Temperature
39°F
November 24, 2011
Coldest Low Temperature
-18°F
November 30, 1893
Average Temperature
28 to 31°F
 
Warmest Average Temperature
49.5°F
November 24, 2011
Coldest Average Temperature
 0.0°F
November 30, 1893
Precipitation
0.05" to 0.06"
Wettest
0.57"
November 21, 1940
Snowfall
0.2" to 0.3"
Snowiest
3.7"
November 25, 1993
Snow Depth at 7 AM
1.3"
Most Snow of Ground at 7 AM
9"
November 27, 1952


The odds of having any precipitation on Thanksgiving is 51.4% (56 out of 109).  There has been measurable (0.01" or greater) precipitation on 31 Thanksgivings (28.4%) and trace amounts (less than 0.01") of precipitation on 25 Thanksgivings (22.9%).  

It has snowed on 42 out of 102 (41.2%) Thanksgivings.  Measurable snow (0.1" or greater) has fallen on 22 Thanksgivings (21.6%) and trace amounts on 20 Thanksgivings (19.6%). 

Residents have woken up with measurable snow (1/2" or greater) on the ground 28 times (34.6%), trace amounts (less than a 1/2") 12 times (14.8%), and no snow 41 times (50.6%). 

Looking back at the 2020Thanksgiving (November 26), the high temperature was 34°F and the low temperature was 29°F.  No precipitation fell and there was trace snow on the ground that morning.  The average wind speed was 10.7 mph.


The following weather events have occurred on Thanksgiving in southeast Minnesota, northeast Iowa, and western Wisconsin:

  • In 1918 (November 28), one of the largest November snowfalls up to that time in Iowa fell from November 27th through November 28th. The snowfall was light over the northwest and southeast portions of Iowa, a few stations reported only traces. The largest Iowa snowfall total was reported in Fayette with a total of 9.5 inches. New Hampton reported 6 inches. In southeast Minnesota, this snowstorm produced three to seven inches of snow. La Crosse WI experienced its heaviest snow from noon through 2 PM on Thanksgiving Day. Their total snowfall from this storm was 6 inches.
  • In 1942 (November 26), heavy snow fell in southeast Minnesota and southwest Wisconsin from November 25th through Thanksgiving, and glaze was reported in Wisconsin from November 25th through November 27th. Drifting snow obstructed highways in some places. Some of the snowfall totals included: Viroqua WI (7") and Grand Meadow MN (6").
  • In 1950 (November 23), Lancaster WI had a high temperature of 51 and a low temperature of minus 2. This 53-degree temperature difference is the greatest ever recorded there.
  • In 1965 (November 25), Goodrich WI received 6 inches of snow.
  • In 1970 (November 26), Mondovi WI received 7 inches of snow.
  • In 1978 (November 23), Preston MN received 6 inches of snow.
  • In 1983 (November 24), the first major winter storm of the season dumped heavy wet snow from western Iowa and southeast South Dakota northeast into northern Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin from November 23rd through Thanksgiving Day. The hardest hit was Duluth, MN which received 20.7 inches of snow, 16.6 inches of which fell in 24 hours. The highest snow in southeast Minnesota from this storm was reported in Lake City, MN (6.5") snow.
Thanksgiving 1983 Snowfall
  • In 1985 (November 28), six to seven inches of snow fell across north-central and central Wisconsin. Some snowfall total included: Mather (7"), Jump River (6.5"), and Necedah (6").
  • In 1992 (November 26), the season's first winter storm developed over the Texas Panhandle and moved through Missouri, northern and western Illinois, and south-central and northeast Wisconsin.

    In Iowa - Snow fell over a large part of Iowa on November 25th and continued into Thanksgiving. The heaviest snow in Iowa fell on November 25th. Only the northwest third and far southeast corner of Iowa were spared. Snowfall amounts ranged from three to nine inches. The heaviest band extended from Creston through Des Moines, Waterloo, and Dubuque. Six to nine inches were common in this band. During the height of the storm, snowfall rates of one to two inches per hour were common. The heaviest reported snow was 10.3 inches at Dubuque followed by a 10-inch report at Monona, 9.4 inches in Ankeny, and 9.3 inches at the Des Moines Airport. Some additional snowfall reports in northeast Iowa included:

    Lansing (7.3"), Dorchester (7"), New Hampton (7"), Fayette (6.6"), Charles City (6.2"), and Waukon (6").

    Travel became difficult, with roadways becoming snow-packed and ice-covered. Most of the side streets were closed in the Dubuque area. Accidents were very numerous and were in the hundreds as people began their Thanksgiving holiday travel. A few highways were closed for a while due to accidents. There were several traffic-related fatalities with at least five known traffic deaths. The snow fell with surface temperatures above freezing in most cases. This minimized drifting problems but caused problems with snow removal as the snow was very wet and heavy. One man died shoveling snow in Denver. Spotty power outages occurred due to the heavy wet snow collecting on power lines and trees. In Des Moines for example, 3700 customers were without power for a period of time. There was some crop damage due to the storm. Nearly one-quarter of the state corn crop was still in the fields. The heavy wet snow caused lodging in many areas.

    In southeast Minnesota - Snowfall in excess of 6 inches fell south of a line from near Le Roy to Preston and Caledonia from November 25th through Thanksgiving. The greatest amount was 8 inches reported in Caledonia, Lanesboro, and Mabel. Other snowfall reports in southeast Minnesota included: Spring Grove (7") and Harmony (6").

    In western Wisconsin - The following snowfall amounts were reported: Readstown (9.5"), Mauston (9"), Gays Mills (8"), La Farge (8"), Richland Center (8"), Steuben (8"), Necedah (7"), Ontario (7"), Lancaster (6.5" snow, 2.74" liquid equivalent, wettest November day), Muscoda (6.3"), Hillsboro (6"), and Westby (6"). 
     
  • In 1993 (November 25), heavy snow fell over portions of northwest, north-central, and central Wisconsin with amounts ranging from 6 to 13 inches. Snow-covered roads led to multiple accidents. Snowfall totals included 13 inches Browning (Taylor County), 12 inches at Cumberland (Barron County), and 10 inches at Poplar (Douglas County), Danbury, and Webster (Burnett County). Also on this day, Austin, MN reported 2.50 inches of liquid-equivalent precipitation. This made it their wettest November day.
     
  • In 2014 (November 27th), the temperature fell to -8°F at Rochester International Airport.  This was their 2nd coldest Thanksgiving.  Only the Thanksgiving of 1893 (November 30th) was colder with a low temperature of -18°F.
     
  • In 2015 (November 26th), Rochester, MN had their 2nd wettest Thanksgiving.  Only 1940 was wetter with 0.57" of precipitation. La Crosse, WI received a half-inch of precipitation.  This was their 6th wettest Thanksgiving and the first time that precipitation had fallen on a Thanksgiving since 1993.  In both locations, this was the wettest Thanksgiving since 1940 (November 21st).
     
  • In 2016 (November 24th), La Crosse, WI had a high temperature of 39°F and a low temperature of 37°F.  Having this little of a temperature change 2°F or less) during a calendar is day is extremely rare (0.179% of all observations).  It is only the second Thanksgiving (1879 - high temperature of 36°F and a low temperature of 34°F) to have this little of a temperature change.