Wind could ground iconic balloons at Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Decision to be made Thursday morning

The Olaf balloon moves through Sixth Avenue during the 92nd annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2018. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki) (Associated Press)

ORLANDO, Fla. – While Central Florida can expect some beautiful and mild weather this Thanksgiving, some other parts of the country will be dealing with a mixed bag of weather, from west coast snow to wind and rain across the Midwest.

But like every Thanksgiving, all eyes are the weather in the Big Apple.

Luckily, it will be much warmer than last year’s parade, where it dipped to 19 degrees Thanksgiving morning. That broke the record for the second-coldest Turkey Day in the city’s history.

The 3.5 million parade spectators will still have to bundle up this year, with temps in the 40s, but unfortunately, wind could ground the iconic balloons for the 93rd annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

The current forecast calls for sustained winds of 22 mph and wind gusts of 39 mph during the time of the parade. Officials will have to closely monitor the winds to make sure they will remain below the threshold of 23 mph and gusts less than 34 mph for the balloons to fly.

If wind speeds are determined to be too high, the iconic giant balloons will not be included in the parade because of safety concerns.

On a quiet, calm day, each of the show-stopping characters requires about 90 handlers as they float about 50 feet in the air. With winds accompanying a strong cold front, some of the balloons might not be able to fly this Thanksgiving.

Some might think the tall buildings in the city could help block some of the wind, but the issue is between the buildings. Small wind tunnels could spin up between skyscrapers, increasing winds even further than forecast.

If the winds pass the threshold during the 2.5-mile parade route, the balloons may have to be pulled down close to the pavement to prevent injuries to parade-goers.

In 1997, winds caused a major issue during the parade. The Barney balloon hit a wind tunnel and became difficult to control, prompting NYPD officers to stab it and pull it out of the parade.

Hopefully, Mother Nature will be kind to the balloons this year, and the annual Thanksgiving traditions will go without a hitch. The final decision will be made Thursday morning.

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