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    Labor Day Weekend Travel: Storms to Rattle Central, Eastern US

    By by Alex Sosnowski, senior meteorologist.
    August 31, 2014, 11:47:39 PM EDT

    The North Central states face the most adverse weather this Labor Day weekend, in the form of severe storms and tornadoes which will threaten lives and travelers. Otherwise, warmth and humidity will build across the East Coast as sunshine holds in the Southwest.

    According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), approximately 35 million people will hit the roads and airports on the last unofficial weekend of summer. The number is the highest in six years for the holiday and may be associated with lower fuel prices and improving economic conditions.

    Through the holiday weekend, humid air will be in place from the Gulf Coast to the Midwest as heat rebounds over the central and southern Plains later this weekend.


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    As a cold front slices into the steamy air, an outbreak of severe weather will threaten lives, property and travelers late Sunday over a part of the North Central states.

    The strongest thunderstorms will be capable of spawning tornadoes, especially from eastern Nebraska to western Iowa and Minnesota.

    Prior to the outbreak, another zone of strong thunderstorms with hail and damaging winds will threaten western North Dakota Saturday afternoon and evening.

    Otherwise over the weekend, showers and thunderstorms will stretch from the Gulf Coast to the Great Lakes on Saturday. The most numerous activity will center on the lower Mississippi Valley and western Great Lakes, including Chicago, Indianapolis, Little Rock, Shreveport and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Tupelo, Mississippi, and Houston.


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    On Sunday, the corridor of numerous thunderstorms will extend from the lower Mississippi Valley to the Ohio Valley to northern New England. A stray shower or thunderstorm will dot the I-95 corridor from Boston to New York City to Philadelphia to Washington, D.C., mainly Sunday afternoon.

    Folks traveling from the western Gulf Coast to the Great Lakes and northern New England will want to make provisions for indoor activities for at least part of their weekend. Enough rain can fall and thunderstorms could be locally gusty in this zone, perhaps to the point to cause isolated flash flooding and sporadic power interruptions.

    Travel delays would be a threat even if flash flooding does not unfold. Any downpours will reduce visibility for motorists and heighten the risk of vehicles hydroplaning at highway speeds. Airline passengers should prepare for possible flight delays from the downpours and lightning strikes.


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    On Labor Day, many communities along the East Coast will have to contend with a shower or thunderstorm threatening outdoor picnics, parades and other festivities. This includes in Boston, New York City, Washington, D.C., Charlotte, North Carolina, Atlanta and Jacksonville, Florida.

    The storms will accompany a return of steamy air to the region.

    The same cold front triggering Sunday's severe weather will also spread disruptive thunderstorms over the western Great Lakes and mid-Mississippi Valley on Labor Day. AccuWeather.com meteorologists will be monitoring the potential for Monday's thunderstorms to still be heavy and gusty.

    The sunniest locations this weekend will be over the Southwest, along much of the West Coast states, part of the southern Plains and for a time along the middle part of the Atlantic Seaboard.

    Two departing tropical systems, Cristobal in the Atlantic and Marie in the Pacific, will allow surf conditions to improve along the East coast and southern California coast respectively. Bathers and boarders entering the waters on Friday will still want to exercise caution and heed local restrictions, in these areas.

    A push of dry air from the west will greatly tone down the monsoon over the Four Corners region. Outdoor enthusiasts ranging from hikers to campers will have fewer worries of flash flooding and lightning strikes. However, the wildfire danger remains high over a large part of the West, and people are urged to be extremely careful with campfires, vehicles and power equipment as extreme drought conditions continue.

    Very spotty showers will affect western Washington state throughout this weekend.

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