We Might Not See Balloons During This Year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade
Let's hope meteorologists are wrong about this one.
Not even a day after unveiling all the cool balloons that'll float down the streets of New York City this year, weather forecasters have poured a bunch of cold water on our hopes.
It appears Mother Nature might get in the way of one of the best things about the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade - the balloons.
Although Thanksgiving is more than a week out, meteorologists are keeping an eye on gusty winds that are expected to blow through the region next Thursday.
Two low-pressure systems are currently being tracked and meteorologists believe they will merge when they enter the Northeast this weekend. The system could produce stormy conditions, per recent computer forecast models.
Additionally, another storm is being tracked that could hit during the height of Thanksgiving travel.
The models will become clearer as we get closer to Thanksgiving.
What's the Parade Policy on Weather?
Balloons are not allowed to fly if sustained winds are stronger than 23 mph. Additionally, if there are gusts predicted to exceed 34 miles per hour, the balloons will also be grounded.
Currently, the forecast for Manhattan is calling for morning showers and winds hitting 13 mph.
On the other hand, spectators will enjoy warmer temperatures, with the mercury calling for 51 degrees as of print time.
Why Will the Balloons Be Grounded?
The reason why parade officials have set a wind gust threshold is because of a majorly serious incident that happened 25 years ago.
In 1997, 40 mph winds caused the balloons to whip out of control and bash into light poles.
The damage then caused the poles to fall and people got hurt. When handlers began losing control of the balloons, police began stabbing and stomping them to prevent more damage.
The balloons that got the worst of it were the Barney and Pink Panther balloons.
But the Cat in the Hat balloon caused the worst damage of all when it slammed into a light pole and debris rained onto the spectators below. Three people were injured and a woman was knocked unconscious. The woman remained in a coma for 24 days.
She later settled what must have been a very hefty lawsuit. The wind guidelines were enacted the following year.
If the balloons are grounded this year, it'll mark the first time since 1971 that they won't fly at the parade.
The Macy's Day Parade has never been cancelled due to weather, but it did take a 3-year hiatus during World War II.
Other Weird Weather Events
Since the parade first stepped off in 1924, people have marched through rain, snow, dangerous winds, subzero temperatures and so much more when enjoying the annual tradition.
The coldest Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade stepped off in 2018 when marchers had to walk through 17-degree temperatures.
The winds made it feel even colder, with forecasters saying the "feels like" temperature was between 10 and 15 degrees.
That became the coldest Thanksgiving on record since 1901, when the mercury read 19 degrees in Central Park.
The coldest-ever was in 1871 when Central Park was a balmy 15 degrees.
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On the other hand, Manhattan revelers nearly melted when the mercury hit 69 degrees in 1933.
And, of course, how can anyone forget the "White Thanksgiving" of 1989, which marked the first time that happened in 51 years. By the time marchers took off, there was 4.4 inches of snow in Central Park, which was a record amount.
Marchers also battled through cold and snow in 1996, when temperatures dropped to 23 degrees and walked through a dusting of snow on the ground.
We'll see what weather is in store for this year when the 96th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade steps off at 9 a.m. EST on Thursday, November 23.
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