For Much of the U.S., Good Weather Will Allow for an Outdoor (and Safer) Thanksgiving

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Public-health officials have for weeks been urging Americans to avoid gathering for Thanksgiving this year, lest the holiday turn into a national super-spreading event. But for those who still plan on getting together, experts say an outdoor get-together is far safer than prolonged time indoors, where it’s easier for the virus that causes COVID-19 to spread. Whether an outdoor Thanksgiving is really feasible, however, largely depends on, well, the weather.

Good news: a look at the Thanksgiving Day forecast reveals that, for most of the U.S., temperatures will be above normal and the skies will be clear.

“When it comes to Thanksgiving weather, most of the country will have lucked out,” says John Homenuk, a meteorologist at New York Metro Weather, via email. “Warmer than normal air and calm conditions are expected from the Plains states to the Great Lakes and Tennessee Valley. Cooler, but mostly pleasant weather is also expected in the Pacific Northwest down the West Coast to the Desert Southwest. Outdoor activities should at least be possible in many of these regions, but especially the Central U.S. and Ohio Valley, where temperatures are expected to be several degrees warmer than normal.”

Homenuk also sent along this map, which shows expected temperatures across the U.S. in terms of how far above or below normal they’re expected to be for this time of year:

However, an outdoor Thanksgiving may be less of an option across much of the U.S. East Coast, which is likely in for some wet weather. “Areas like Philadelphia, New York City and Boston are likely to be dealing with showers and dreary conditions throughout the morning and early afternoon,” says Homenuk. “Some clearing is possible later in the day if a cold front can sweep through quickly enough.”

Even with this weather forecast in mind, it’s still safer to avoid gathering this year with anybody you don’t already live with (and no, getting a single COVID-19 test can’t guarantee a safe Thanksgiving). But if you’re committed to having people over or heading somewhere else despite the risks, it’s looking like turkey al fresco will be a viable option for many.

Still, it’s wise to keep the guest list as short as possible and ensure everybody stays masked and distanced as much as possible; it’s especially important to keep people apart while they’re masks-down and eating. One other suggestion: rather than inviting a bunch of people over for an all-day hang and dinner, have a smaller group over for a distanced outdoor hangout for part of the day, then do dinner with your immediate household later.

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