We often hope for a cold Thanksgiving, so a cool garage is a safe place to store leftovers for a day. That comfort of a cold Michigan is becoming increasingly rare. Data shows Michigan’s Thanksgiving has gotten warmer.
First, the global mean temperature has been warming since the 1980s. The strongest trend in Michigan is that the fall season is getting warmer. Of course, Thanksgiving falls right in the fall season.
Climate Central analyzed past Thanksgiving temperatures in various cities across Michigan. The trend lines show warming from a degree and a half to just over two degrees.
One thing I want to say before we look at the data is that Thanksgiving temperatures have always been up and down, with temperatures varying widely from one year to the next.
In southern Lower Michigan, Grand Rapids is having its fastest-warming Thanksgiving since 1970, rising 2.2 degrees. Since 2000, most Thanksgivings in Grand Rapids have been warmer than the trendline. These warm Thanksgivings continue to push the trendline higher.
Saginaw has also warmed up to Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving in recent years has averaged 1.6 degrees warmer than when the chart began in 1970. There have been several Thanksgivings in recent years, peaking in the 50’s and low 60’s.
Lansing also has a Thanksgiving trend line that is slowly warming up.
The forecast assumes that Thanksgiving will continue to warm in Michigan. This should be obvious as global temperature is also predicted to be warming.
The rate of warming is certainly the subject of much debate. Climate Central used a warming rate forecast produced by the CMIP-5 climate models. The CMIP-5 forecast is composed of several climate models. Note that Grand Rapids’ Thanksgiving Day in 2050 is expected to be two degrees warmer compared to 2016. In the 50 years from 2050 to 2100, Thanksgiving around Grand Rapids is expected to be about six degrees warmer than 2050. Many of us won’t be there, but my oldest granddaughter will be 87 years old. My youngest grandson will be 78 years old. So there will be some people now who make it to a very heartfelt Thanksgiving in the year 2100.
In 2100, Grand Rapids will have a Thanksgiving similar to Lexington, KY today, averaging 51 degrees on Thanksgiving.
Detroit is projected to warm to 48 degrees on Thanksgiving 2050 and 53 degrees on Thanksgiving 2100. That means Thanksgiving in Detroit in 2050 should feel like Dayton, OH and Evansville, IN on Thanksgiving 2100.
When Thanksgiving is cold, do you use the coldest part of your garage as a full-size refrigerator? I can remember doing this a lot growing up near Chicago. I don’t recall being able to store leftovers safely in the garage very often over the last few years. By 2050 we’ll need another fridge because the garage isn’t a safe place to store leftovers.