Weather for Black Friday? Cold and a strong chance of shopping.

Retailers hoping for Black Friday crowds like wintery weather, which reminds people of the holidays. Meteorologists predict that's what they'll get on that big shopping day after Thanksgiving.

By , Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

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    Early bird 'Black Friday' shoppers cram the aisles at a Target store in Aurora, Ohio on November 28, 2008.
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Get ready for winter.

Just in time for Black Friday, meteorologists are predicting the warm 50-degree November days are ending. Instead, think parkas, fleece-lined boots, and warming up the car before heading to the mall the day after Thanksgiving.

Indeed, the forecast for the holidays – right up to Christmas – is for colder than normal weather in the east, a normal chill in the Midwest, and lots of rain in the Northwest.

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There are widespread implications of this relatively abrupt changing of the seasons.

Retailers in the Northeast are likely to cheer the kind of weather that makes shoppers think about the upcoming holidays instead of a last round of golf. Energy companies may start to see real demand for their home heating products. And mayors in the Northeast may start to get snow removal crews ready to scrape the white stuff from the roads.

Retailers are particularly cheered by the news.

"It puts consumers in the right frame of mind in terms of the season," says Scott Krugman, a vice president at the National Retail Federation in Washington. "The last thing you want to have if you're a retailer in the Northeast is a 70 degree day – it keeps people out of the stores."

However, it's not clear if the colder weather will result in people shopping for seasonal items – boots, warm gloves, and scarves. That's because October was the coldest in 23 years and the wettest in 115 years, says Evan Gold, a vice president at Planalytics, which provides business weather intelligence.

"Most every state was colder than normal," he says. "The net result is that some seasonal sales might have been pulled forward because of the cold and wet conditions."

Mr. Krugman says retailers also don't want to see storms dumping so much snow on the roads that it keeps consumers at home glued to their television sets. "Snow storms are bad," he says.

Well, meteorologists say, store owners can relax – at least through Black Friday. On Thanksgiving Day, they expect a blast of Arctic air.

"It will be colder than we have seen and colder than normal," says Dave Samuhel, a meteorologist at AccuWeather in State College, Pa. "But right now we don't think there will be a storm front along that front, just some snow showers that will make it feel like the holiday season."

But meteorologist Scott Bernhardt, the chief operating officer of Planalytics, cautions that a storm system might develop in Baja California and then track east. It won't hit on Black Friday but might be in the east by the weekend, if it develops.

If it arrives, it might find plenty of cold air. Mr. Samuhel forecasts frigid weather is likely to continue into December, especially during the first two weeks.

"It will be colder than normal in the eastern half of the country," he predicts.

If any storms develop next month, he expects they will result in rain along the coast because the water temperatures are still warm. But there could be snow inland. During this period it will be "chilly" in the Midwest and rainy in Seattle and Portland, Ore. California and Florida could be the places for vacations.

And, what says the venerable Old Farmer's Almanac? It's actually not that much different – except for the possibility of rain or snow between Thanksgiving and the end of the month.

See also:

Wal-Mart Black Friday sales for 2009: The story behind the leak

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