No snow is low, but banning balloons would really blow

Far from home: Oh, snap ... the webslinger and his floating friends might not be cleared to fly in Thursday's Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
By GREGORY ZELLER //

Humbug! Chances are low that Long Island will experience a white Christmas in 2019, according to expert forecasters, while another elemental disappointment may scrub a big part of the national Thanksgiving tradition.

With about one month to go before Santa’s snow-equipped sleigh comes screeching to a halt on regional rooftops, national forecast modeler AccuWeather is predicting no late-December snow for the Eastern Seaboard. Technically, a “white Christmas” requires at least one measurable inch of snow on the ground sometime during the antemeridian hours of Dec. 25.

There’s a good chance of that across the Upper Midwest, but not so much in the Northeast, according to Paul Pastelok, head of long-range forecasting for Pennsylvania-based AccuWeather, who sees a dry and warm pattern ahead in these parts.

White out: Not this year, AccuWeather says, at least not on Long Island.

“I do not see snow on the ground around the I-95 corridor, especially from New York City on south,” Pastelok said. “Chances for a white Christmas are low.”

To further Grinch things up, AccuWeather – which boasts operations in nine key global locations, including Manhattan, Montreal, Mumbai, Beijing and Seoul, South Korea – is also predicting that wicked winds will force organizers to ground the famous balloon flotilla for Nov. 28’s 93rd annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Each of the polyurethane floaters requires about 90 handlers and is tethered to two 800-pound utility vehicles. But even with that battery of horse and people power, the balloons – many six stories or taller – can only be operated if sustained winds are below 23 miles per hour and wind gusts aren’t forecasted to exceed 34 mph, according to Macy’s.

Unfortunately for those who enjoy a giant floating Hello Kitty with their batons and bad lip-synching, “conditions expected on Thanksgiving Day may exceed those thresholds,” AccuWeather said.

Half-baked: It’s not looking like the Pillsbury Doughboy will rise this year.

“Winds this strong will be a safety concern for balloon handlers and spectators along the parade route,” noted AccuWeather meteorologist Courtney Travis, who predicted 30- to 50-mph gusts from the north and northwest on Thanksgiving morning – with even higher squalls whipping up through the canyons of Midtown Manhattan.

Although there have been a few accidents over the years, including some with serious pedestrian injuries, high winds have only waved off the balloons once in the parade’s long history (in 1971). Macy’s also canceled the procession between 1942 and 1944, during World War II.

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