The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade might not fly its iconic balloons this year due to strong winds


(CNN) – Thanksgiving is approaching fast and for many it is a time-honored tradition to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. However, this year it could be missing a key element: its 16 giant character balloons.

New York City officials may have to ground the iconic balloons due to windy conditions. The balloons cannot be flown when sustained winds exceed 23 mph and gusts exceed 34 mph, per city regulations.

The iconic Cat in the Hat balloon injured four people during the 1997 Thanksgiving Day Parade after being overtaken by strong winds. The following year, city officials instituted new regulations for grounding the giant balloons.

The National Weather Service is currently forecasting sustained winds of 22 mph and wind gusts of 39 mph at the time of the parade. While the sustained winds do not exceed the regulations, the wind gusts do. Officials will have to monitor wind conditions and decide whether to allow the balloons to be flown.

Officials will likely have to make that call on Thursday, as wind conditions can rapidly change. The last time the parade’s balloons were grounded due to inclement weather was 1971, according to the New York Times.

The good news is that this year will be much warmer than last year’s parade. According to the National Weather Service, the 2018 Thanksgiving Day Parade recorded a chilly low of 19°F, which made it the second-coldest Thanksgiving Day in the city’s history. This year, the forecasted temperature is expected to be 44-47°F.

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