Approaching nor'easter threatens Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

2:54 PM, Nov 26, 2013   |    comments
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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) - A nor'easter threatens to hamper travel throughout the Tri-State area for the start of the Thanksgiving holiday, and could also put a damper on the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

CBS 2's Lonnie Quinn reported the storm was making its way into the Tennessee Valley on Monday, and was on track to move right into the Tri-State area. A cloudy start was expected on Tuesday, and the brunt of the storm was expected to hit from Tuesday night through Wednesday afternoon.

The storm will not bring snow, but will dump heavy rain on the area in amounts of 2 to 4 inches as winds gust up to 60 mph. Flooding is a risk for the area, Quinn reported. Some snow may come as the storm ends and temperatures drop dramatically on Thanksgiving Day.

A high wind watch has been issued for all five boroughs of the city, as well as the shoreline of Connecticut and the entirety of Long Island.

For those planning to stay in the city, or come into the city, to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, CBS 2's Tony Aiello reported the iconic balloons may be nowhere in sight if conditions become too windy.

Organizers of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade are keeping a close eye on the weather.

"Based on the city's guidelines, no giant character balloon will be operated when there are sustained wind conditions exceeding 23 mph and wind gusts exceeding 34 mph," Macy's said in a statement. "At this time, it is too early to make any determinations on the flight of the giant balloons."

The long-awaited new balloons for this year took a test flight earlier this month at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, N.J. The parade debut of Finn and Jake "Adventure Time" has been anxiously anticipated.

"I think it's going to be cool," said Cameron Meyer, who is visiting from California.

But the sight of the balloon may end up being limited to Cameron's imagination.

Cameron's mother, Viviana Meyer, said such an outcome would be "extremely disappointing, given how far we've traveled to get here."

The city has revived parade protocols twice after balloon accidents. In 1997, a Manhattan mother ended up in a coma for 23 days when the Cat in the Hat balloon struck a light pole at 72nd Street and Central Park West - sending part of the lamppost crashing down and injuring four people in all, WCBS 880's Irene Cornell reported.

In 2005, two sisters visiting from Albany were injured in a similar accident near Times Square, involving the M&M's balloon.

Now, an NYPD sergeant walks with each group of balloon handlers to assist with safety.

"They can be lowered all the way to the ground, or the determination can be made not to fly, but we make it with (the Office of Emergency Management)," said police Commissioner Ray Kelly.

When he was in high school, Kelly handled a turkey balloon for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

"I'm proud of it," said the police commissioner.

Kelly said the office and Macy's will make the call based on conditions on parade day. Already at the Macy's muster point on the Upper West Side, a windsock has been set up to keep track of conditions.

On Thursday, safety crews will have handheld wind-speed meters to gauge whether it is safe for the balloons to take flight.

Wind will not affect one event that has grown in popularity in recent years. The balloon inflation on the Upper West Side will take place no matter what on Wednesday.

In preparation for the windy weather, the Department of Buildings is reminding all builders, contractors, and property owners to secure construction sites and buildings. The department said it will perform random spot-check inspections of construction sites around the city.

Cold temperatures will ease off over the next couple of days, AccuWeather's Dr. Joe Sobel reported.

Monday will stay cold with an expected high of 35, but temperatures are expected to reach the mid-40s Tuesday and mid 50s on Thursday before dipping back down into the 30s on Thanksgiving.