TAMPA, Fla. - Rain is in the forecast for the Tampa Bay Area this Thanksgiving. Wait, let me say that again. Yes, rain is in the forecast for the Tampa Bay area this Thanksgiving and there is certainly nothing normal about it.
For many, whether you are a resident Floridian or simply visiting in hopes to escape the advancing winter weather up north, you expect to be thankful for the warmth and sunshine in Florida on Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, the rare call for rain on Thanksgiving is in the forecast this year and many of you are having a hard time even remembering the last time it rained on your Turkey-Day plans.
Simply looking at the records at the Tampa International Airport we found that the last time rain was reported on Thanksgiving was in 2009. While rain was reported, there wasn't enough rain to actually be measurable. Technically, measurable rainfall is anything greater than 0.01".
Given this threshold, dating back to 1966, TIA has only received measurable rainfall eight times. The most recent year that there was measurable rain in Tampa on Thanksgiving was in 2004 when 0.55" was reported. The other years were 1989 (0.49"), 1987 (.013), 1984 (0.27"), 1983 (0.12"), 1980 (0.45"), 1977 (0.07") and 1969 (0.03).
What makes rain on Thanksgiving even more rare for the Tampa Bay area is that November is typically the driest month of the year. On average, Tampa only receives 1.55" of rain for the entire month. This compares to the 7.77" of normal rainfall in August.
Being that La Niña recently developed, you might think that rain on Thanksgiving in Tampa is related. First, La Niña typically brings drier and warmer than normal conditions to Tampa during the winter months so that would not necessarily be an obvious connection.
Regardless, looking back at years when La Niña was present, there didn't appear to be a strong connection. In fact, of the eight Thanksgivings since 1966 that it rained in Tampa, only two were during a La Niña pattern (1983 and 1984).
There also didn't appear to be a strong connection to an active hurricane season and rain on Thanksgiving. The most recent rain on Thanksgiving came on the heels of the devastating 2004 hurricane season when there were 15 named storms, nine hurricanes, and six major hurricanes. The other years ranged from having four named storms to 12 named storms. There were 17 named storms this year.
Nevertheless, rain is in the forecast for Tampa Bay and no, there is nothing normal about it. The good news is that this time of year the rain does not last for long and the warmth and sunshine will return soon.