Top 5 Worst Thanksgiving Storms

Weather doesn’t stop during the holidays! Unfortunately this means there are records of some nasty storms hitting the U.S. during days like Thanksgiving. On what is supposed to be a day spent with loved ones (and lots of food), there has been wild weather on this holiday over the decades. We’re counting down the 5 worst Thanksgiving storms.

5. Northeast Jolted by Snow Storm (11/23/1989)

On Thanksgiving Day in 1989, the northeast experienced a powerful storm that produced record snowfall for both New York City, NY and Newark, NJ. NYC received 4.7” and Newark received 6”. That’s more than either city had seen on Thanksgiving before. In Providence, Rhode Island, the same storm system produced 8” of snow, which wasn’t just a record for Thanksgiving Day, but for any given day in November!

4. The Great Thanksgiving Weekend Blizzard (11/25/1983)

Photo Courtesy: Cal Wolf

This infamous blizzard hit Denver, CO in 1983. Over the course of 37 hours, the massive storm system produced 21.5 inches of snow. Can you imagine getting nearly two feet of snow in just a day and a half? The snow ended up closing Stapleton Airport for 24 hours and closed interstate highways around Denver. Since Thanksgiving is such a big travel holiday, you can imagine how much of a mess that was!

3. Snowfall Blankets Northeast (11/25/1971)

On the night before Thanksgiving in 1971, snow began to fall in parts of the northeast, including Pennsylvania. The snow kept falling harder and harder throughout the night, and by the afternoon of Thanksgiving Day, the state saw 20-30” of snow! The cold temperatures and heavy consistency of the snow caused roads and businesses to shut down, and even caused winds to gust up to 63 mph a few states away in New York City.

2. 1982 – Hurricane Iwa Hits Hawaii (11/25/1982)

Photo Courtesy: The U.S. National Archive

It’s a terrible thing to experience a hurricane on any day of the year, but especially around Thanksgiving. The powerful Hurricane Iwa hit the western Hawaiian Islands in November 1982, with wind gusts up to 105 mph and storm surge reaching 6-8 feet. Islands that were impacting the most were Oahu, Kauai, and Niihau. Over the course of 6 days, countless buildings were destroyed and one life was lost.

1. Thanksgiving Day Tornado Outbreak (11/25/1926)

On November 25, 1926, 14 tornadoes terrorized parts of the south over the course of 6 hours. Louisiana and Arkansas were hit hard by these destructive tornadoes and 64 people were killed, with over 200 injured. Homes were destroyed, businesses left in shambles, and lives were completely turned upside down, all from 4:00p to 6:00p on Thanksgiving Day. To this day, this remains to be one of the most destructive outbreaks to his this area of the U.S. so late in the year.

Join the Discussion


  1. Thanksgiving Day storm of 1989? As the turkey was cooking in the oven the calls came in that they couldn’t come. Everyone lived within 10 to 20 minutes away. So I called my cousin who lived an hour and a half away. No answer! Needless to say, she drove up! 😨 A little late but she made it! 🤗 What a day!

  2. I very much remember the Thanksgiving 1989 storm.

    It was more than a little surprising… Delaware is not noted for having snow in November… at least not by 1989! But this was the first of several snows that hit on a 5-7 day clock… each a little stronger than the last.

    In Delaware, we got about 3″-4″ from it. Mostly overnight, but it did leave a pretty scene on Thanksgiving Day.

    We ended up with a white Christmas that year, too.

    The irony? On NYE, it rained… and it didn’t snow a flake again all winter.

  3. I was a mail carrier during the blizzard of ’83 (as we called it) in Denver. Back then, they really did believe in “Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet nor hail…”. I remember trying to walk through a foot of snow delivering mail before the Post Office finally and wisely called us all back in. I still have pictures of snow up to the door handle of my car. No one went anywhere. I think we had TV dinners for Thanksgiving that year. lol.

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