Weather and your Thanksgiving Dinner


We’re close enough to count the hours until the big meal of the year…Thanksgiving.  The weather here in Middle Tennessee will be terrific for the grand gathering…partly sunny with the afternoon high in the upper 60s.  Well above average for this time of year.


I think we can all agree that the weather impacts the way you feel.  But did you know that it can also effect the Thanksgiving meal?  Yes it can, from the turkey to the cranberry sauce to the sweet potato casserole.  I have been gathering some fun facts about food and the weather.

Turkeys are hearty little creatures.  They are able to survive sub-zero temperatures. Wild Turkeys live in some of the chilliest parts of the United States.  As a matter of fact, during spells of wintry weather, turkeys can settle in roosting areas without food for up to two weeks, able to survive losing up to 40% of their body weight!  Snow presents the biggest problem.  It’s hard for them to forage for food in more than 6″ of snow.

My daughters favorite side is cranberry sauce or salad.  A sunny year can mean bigger cranberries on your table! Cranberries don’t like temperatures over 85°F, so they are found in more moderate climate zones.  You usually don’t find them much farther south than New Jersey.

Illinois is the leading producer of US pumpkins. But we know they are abundant in Middle Tennessee.  When my kiddos were younger we were regulars at Grant’s Farm in Franklin. Too much rain can cause pumpkin crops to rot and make them more susceptible to infection and disease. Dry, hot weather can also cause a smaller pumpkin harvest.  Lack of water during droughts can also result in smaller and lighter-weight pumpkins.

One of my favorites is sweet potatoes. Our neighboring state to the east, North Carolina is the leading producer of US sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes thrive in warmer weather, needing a long frost-free season to reach full maturity. Heavy rain can be a problem for them as it can prevent sweet potato roots from forming properly or may cause the potatoes to split.

May you and your family and/or friends have a wonderful time together this Thanksgiving where ever you may be.  We can all be thankful for good weather for the occasion and good weather that produced the food we are enjoying.  God bless.


Thanks to my friends at NEEP for help with the weather/food facts.



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No Rain Anytime Soon…I’m Cirrus!

There’s no rain in the forecast anytime soon….I’m cirrus!  Alright…that’s a super lame weather pun/joke, but it fits well today.

Did you notice those clouds in the sky this afternoon?  They’re called cirrus clouds.  The photos below show them well.  This first one was taken downtown.


This next one captured the cirrus being underlit by the setting sun this evening.  Thank you Desda, in Leoma (Lawrence County), for sending it in.


The thing about cirrus clouds is that they’re so high in the atmosphere — roughly 7 miles up — that they’re made completely of ice.  They never produce rain.  They couldn’t.  It’s simply too cold up there — often 40 to 60 degrees below zero!

Sometimes, some of the ice crystals within these cirrus clouds get too big/heavy to remain at cloud level, so they fall downward.  They’re called fall streaks. It’s easy to figure out the wind direction in the upper atmosphere by just looking at fall streaks, since the ice crystals always fall downward, in the direction of the wind.

We had some great looking fall streaks out there this evening!  Douglas Johnson’s photo below from Eagleville shows them off well!


Eventually, fall streaks just go away.  They sublimate.  That just means they turn from a solid (frozen water) into a gas (water vapor), skipping the liquid phase.  The same happens to ice cubes in your freezer, over time.  They don’t melt, but they do shrink….because they sublimate.

SO….whenever you see cirrus clouds moving in, as we had today, you don’t need to jump to get your umbrella….necessarily.  Sometimes, they’ll be followed by lower clouds that produce rain.  Often times though (as in today’s case), they’ll just made the sky prettier and more interesting to look at.




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November 24: Thanksgiving Forecast, Daily Links


It was another cold start this morning, but another rapid warm-up is underway, with high temperatures this afternoon cracking 60 degrees in most locations:
PAUL RPM 4KM Temperature

The warming trend will continue through Thanksgiving, with highs tomorrow in the low 60s, and Thanksgiving high temperatures in the mid to upper 60s!

Wednesday and Thursday look dry, but the next chance of rain will be moving in from the west on Friday.  The super-dedicated shoppers who are out early on Black Friday should enjoy mild and dry conditions, with the best rain chance moving in by sunset Friday afternoon:
7 Day PM
Off-and-on rain looks likely Saturday and Sunday, and could even linger into Monday.  The European forecast model is forecasting more than an inch of rain for most of the Midstate in the Friday through Monday time period, with more than two inches possible in the northwest half of the area:
We’ll be able to get into more specifics in terms of the timing of the most widespread rain as the weekend gets a little closer.  For now, I’d count on less-than-ideal travel weather around the region those days, but at least it won’t be icy!

Nationally, I don’t anticipate TOO many weather-related problems at the major airline hubs on Wednesday — showers and low cloud cover could cause a few delays, but just the volume of Thanksgiving travelers will be the bigger issue.  However, snow and sleet will probably cause some delays at the Salt Lake City and Boise airports:

The Thanksgiving holiday itself will be trickier for national travel.  Widespread rain will spread through the middle of the country…it’s the same storm system that will eventually get stuck in our neck of the woods and produce the lingering rain this weekend.  But for Thursday, rain will be the source of delays from Dallas-Ft Worth northward to Oklahoma City, Tulsa and Kansas City, then northeastward toward Chicago and Milwaukee.  A wintry mix of sleet and snow will cause issues in Denver, Omaha, Des Moines, and eventually Kansas City, while the first accumulating snow of the fall looks increasingly likely for Minneapolis (last week’s storm missed them to the south).  The majority of these weather-related problems will get worse later in the day, so early-Thursday travel looks more favorable in general.



Lots of weather nerdiness today, plus some other good stuff…

  • The snowstorm in the Upper Midwest late last week and over the weekend outperformed expectations.
  • Three meteorologists in Pennsylvania are attempting a daily “sunset quality forecast”.
  • Unrelated to anything specific in the news, but still interesting: seven spectacular weather phenomena, and what causes them.
  • Weather and history: five late-fall snow storms that turned Thanksgiving travel into a nightmare.
  • A volcanic island that appeared in the middle of the ocean two years has already grown to over 12 times its initial size.
  • Could liquid-water lakes still form on Mars today?
  • I linked a couple of weeks ago to an article about how Mars’ moon Phobos will be torn apart…in the next 40 million years or so.  But this is new: the wreckage of Phobos might form a Saturn-like ring around Mars.
  • Astronomers have learned a TON from the New Horizons mission to Pluto…but will NASA ever send astronauts that far out into the solar system?
  • Regardless of whether the target is Mars, Pluto, or someplace in between, NASA has a long way to go in terms of preparing for safe deep-space travel.
  • Dark matter is an elusive thing…but it’s possible that filaments of dark matter extend out from Earth like hairs from a head.
  • Looking forward to this: a supernova should be visible from Earth early next year.  (And how we know that fact is the really cool part.)
  • A long article, but an interesting mashup between science fiction, physics and philosophy: will our descendants survive the destruction of the universe?
  • If that was a little too much, let’s bring it back down to some practical information: the science of Thanksgiving gluttony.  (No, turkey doesn’t make you sleepy.)
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Beauty in the Frozen


This morning many of us were treated to one of the most beautiful blooming flowers.  Usually this time of year, we think of flowers getting nipped by the cold and dying.  You hear us TV weather folks talking about the “first frost” or the “killing freeze”.  This morning Nashville dropped to 22 degrees,  the coldest of the season.  Many spots were in the teens.

City Value Table

As a result the photos started flooding in to  These beautiful frozen creations are called “frost flowers”.


How does this happen? You may ask. Well first off, “frost flowers” are not really flowers.  You can’t plant them.  They occur when the water inside the stem of the plant starts to freeze.  As the water freezes, it expands and causes little cracks in the stem. These little delicate ribbons of ice curl out of the cracks forming what appears to be flowers.   These lovely creations usually occur near the time of the first freeze.  The weather has to be just right.  The air temperature has be below freezing but the ground must remain moist and unfrozen. This is important since water is constantly being drawn into the stem, then pushed of the cracks as it freezes and expands. As you can image this is a slow process and takes place while most of us are sleeping.  The width of the crack will determine the shape of the ribbon of ice that appears.  If the crack is small, the ribbon will be narrow. If the crack is long the ribbon of ice will be wider.

The best time to see a frost flower is early in the morning near sunrise, because the heat of the sun will melt them quickly.  As a matter of fact, if you try to pick one, the warmth from your fingers will melt the fragile flower.

Not all plants can create these petals of ice. They usually occur in thicker stemmed annuals or occasionally  wood. They are usually found in areas were the grass is a bit taller and rarely mowed.  Or you may find them in shaded areas with a lot of undergrowth.

Consider yourself fortunate if you see one.  And of course snap a photo and share it via

Click here for a video of a frost flower forming and also melting.


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BIG Weather Changes This Week!

Without a doubt, this is among the most important weeks of the year for weather, given that it has one of the year’s busiest travel days (Wednesday), Thanksgiving, and then Black Friday.  Fortunately for us, overall, the weather looks very good!

 It surely got off to a cold start, though!  Check out lows this morning across our area.


Nashville International Airport missed the record low by just 6 degrees – it’s 16, set back in 1970.  Because this airmass is so dry, we then jumped nearly 35 degrees….all the way to 56, this afternoon.

This morning, the cold peaked.  That means it’s up & up from here.  See the temperature trend through midweek….


 Midweek is when so many of you will hit the road….and again, we’re going to win out with the forecast.  Within a day’s drive, I see no problems on Wednesday – no big storms…no thunderstorms for that matter…just pleasant driving conditions.


Thanksgiving itself will be dry, here, with a few more clouds, but perfect for a mid-afternoon walk outdoors…..after you’ve stuffed yourself with food and football!


A developing storm system in the Plains will mean rain and snow, there.

That storm will slide our way for the end of the week.  SO…before heading out to box stores to compete for those deep discount deals on Black Friday, make sure you pack your money AND your umbrella!


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November 23: Warming Up, Thanksgiving Travel Forecast, Daily Links


A cold, COLD start this morning!  Temperatures as of 6am were the coldest that we’ve seen since early March:

But if you’re not ready for the wintry temperatures just yet, good news!  Abundant sunshine and winds picking up from the southwest will combine to warm us up to near-normal high temperatures in the mid 50s this afternoon:

The warming trend will continue throughout the week, as the atmospheric seesaw over the United States favors us with southerly winds and dry weather through Thanksgiving:

Thanksgiving travel weather looks very favorable around the Midsouth both Wednesday and Thursday…but if you travel far enough to the west or northwest, you’ll eventually run into rain:
Heavy rain in Dallas and Kansas City, and snow in Denver on Thursday are the sources of Thanksgiving Day travel concern.  That system won’t be a major factor yet on Wednesday though, so hopefully we’ll be able to avoid the kind of travel misery that affected Chicago over the weekend.

The Thanksgiving rain in the middle of the country will head our way on Friday.  At this point I’m thinking that the rain will hold off until Friday afternoon and evening, which is good news for the early-morning Black Friday crowd.  It shouldn’t be cold for the shoppers either, with low temperatures Friday morning WAY above-average:
7 Day PM
Saturday and Sunday aren’t looking great at this point, but don’t despair just yet.  The long-range forecast models have had a hard time latching onto a consistent rain/no-rain scenario , so there’s still considerable uncertainty (which is why I’m not going any higher than 50% for the rain chances).  The rain that moves through late Friday will likely be followed up by another round of rain either Saturday or Sunday — as the week progresses, we should be able to narrow down which half of the weekend will be the wettest.



A smattering of weather, space, and other science-related items today…

  • Some of these bug me, others I’m okay with…but here’s one atmospheric scientist’s list of the Top Ten Redundant Or Misused Weather Terms.
  • A good gift idea for the snow-lover or weather nerd in your life: a new book that’s all about snowflakes.  (Some very cool under-a-microscope snowflake images in the gallery at the bottom of that article.)
  • After such a destructive wildfire season out west, this is hopeful news: NASA plans to use a network of 200 satellites to detect wildfires right when they start (which hopefully will give firefighters a jump on containing those fires).
  • One of the common misconceptions about the impacts of climate changes is the human effect.  To be clear, we’re not talking about the potential extinction of humanity — but mass migrations forced by the changing climate could have global consequences.
  • The newest pictures from the New Horizons mission to Pluto show a series of images that summarize a full day for the dwarf planet and its moon, Charon.
  • Astronomers are studying a tiny galaxy just outside the Milky Way, because of what’s NOT there.  Or, what’s there that we can’t really see.  Or something like that.
  • The science of how the brain forms creative and original ideas.
  • DOG LINK!  The hidden language in your dog’s wagging tail.
  • How would changing the laws of physics change the game of football?  (Sadly, the Minnesota Vikings offensive line would still be terrible.)
  • Some Thanksgiving trivia: Five Mayflower Myths Debunked.
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31 Days Away from Winter

Freeze Watch for West Tennessee Saturday night until Sunday morning as the first freeze of the season is expected there.  Of course we’ll all have below freezing temperatures in Middle Tennessee.  In Nashville Sunday morning the low will drop to 27 degrees.  By Monday in Nashville the low will be 23.  This will be the coldest air of the year.


There will be a few showers on Saturday, but any snow will be along the Cumberland Plateau and very light.  Speaking of snow, this is the last day of Winter Weather Awareness Week.  Winter time  precipitation seems to be one of the most confusing when it comes to describing it…especially sleet vs. freezing rain.  So let’s get that straight before the season starts.

  • Freezing Rain: Rain that freezes when it hits the ground; creating a coating of ice on roads, walkways, trees and power lines.
  • Sleet: Rain that turns to ice pellets before reaching the ground. Sleet also causes moisture on roads to freeze and become slippery.

Just keep in mind, freezing rain can fool you.  It looks like rain when it’s falling, but it freezes when it comes in contact with surfaces.  Freezing rain can cause more accidents than snow.  It creates what we refer to as black ice on the road.  The graphic below  illustrates how the flow of relatively warm air over below freezing air can cause rain, freezing rain, sleet and snow.  This kind of overrunning is common ahead of warm fronts. For rain…the snow melts as it falls into warm air.  For freezing rain the snow melts, it cools below freezing in the cold air but doesn’t become ice until it hits something. For sleet the snow melts then refreezes into ice pellets during it’s fall through cold air. And for snow it falls into cold air and never melts.


The best advice is to STAY AT HOME if winter precipitation is falling.  You know Northerners laugh at us Southerners and say we don’t know how to drive in winter weather.  Well, you have to admit, we don’t get as much practice.  Plus, our area isn’t equipped with the plows and blowers you would find in northern states. With that said, if you must get out, the National Weather Service offers this advice, plus I added a couple.

  • Slow down! Even if the roads just look wet they could still be slick. More than 6,000 fatalities occur on the roadways each year due to weather conditions.
  • Make sure your vehicle is completely clear of ice or snow before starting the trip
  • Let someone know where you are going and what route you will take. If something happens, they will know where to start a search.
  • Don’t leave without the following:
  • If you are driving and begin to skid, remain calm, ease your foot off the gas and turn your wheels in the direction you want the front of the car to go. If you have  ABS or an anti-lock braking system (most cars do now), apply steady pressure to the brake pedal. Never pump the brakes on an ABS equipped vehicle.
  • If you are having trouble seeing due to weather conditions, pull over to the side of the road and stop your car until visibility improves. Turn off your lights and use your parking break when stopped so that another car won’t mistakenly follow your tail/brake lights and end up hitting you.


If your car gets stuck during a storm…

  • Stay in the vehicle!
    • If you leave your vehicle, you will become disoriented quickly in wind-driven snow and cold.
    • Run the motor about 10 minutes each hour for heat.
    • While running the motor, open the window a little for fresh air to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
    • Clear snow from the exhaust pipe to avoid gas poisoning.
  • Be visible to rescuers
    • Turn on the dome light at night when running the engine.
    • Tie a bright colored cloth, preferably red, to your antenna or door.
    • After snow stops falling, raise the hood to indicate you need help.

Stay warm this weekend.  If you missed my other Winter Weather Awareness blogs this week, go to the 4WARN Weather Blog.



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