Millions to Face Thanksgiving Travel Delays From Atlanta to NYC

By , Expert Senior Meteorologist
November 24, 2013; 2:58 AM
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Play video Breaking weather news is detailed in the above AccuWeather.com video.

The latest information on the storm that will impact holiday travel, including a snow map, can be found in this news story.


Millions of Thanksgiving travelers in the East and South Tuesday and Wednesday will face trouble as a storm brings most areas rain but could also bring heavy snow to a narrow swath. Much of the rest of the nation will be dry.

The same storm affecting the Southwest and Texas with snow, ice and rain this weekend will reach the Southeast with rain Tuesday. From there the storm will turn up the East Coast, tracking into colder air, perhaps causing even greater travel disruptions through Wednesday.

According to AccuWeather.com COO Evan Myers, "If the storm hugs the coast and develops to its full potential, it could be a flight nightmare, not only for travelers in the East, but also throughout the nation."

Southern Rain, Thunderstorms

After drenching coastal Texas and Louisiana on Monday, the storm will cruise eastward along the Gulf coast Monday night and Tuesday.

Rain will also increase throughout Tuesday across the Carolinas and may even expand northward to Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia in the afternoon.

Travel delays on the I-10 and I-20 corridors are in store from Louisiana to Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and northern Florida from rain-soaked highways and poor visibility from downpours.

The rain can be heavy enough and cloud ceilings low enough to delay flights at New Orleans, Atlanta, Charlotte and other airports in the region.

Right along the Gulf coast and over part of the southern Atlantic Seaboard, there is also the potential for strong to locally severe thunderstorms.

Even if a dry Wednesday unfolds, gusty winds on the storm's backside could lead to flight delays across the Deep South.

Northeast Rain and Potential Snowstorm

The exact track and intensity of the storm as it swings up or slips off the East Coast Tuesday night into Wednesday night are still in question and hold the key to dry weather versus rain versus snow across the Northeast.

Even if rain were to fall over much of the area, it would be enough to slow travel on the highways and delay a number of flights. Gusty winds would also factor in to delays along the coast, even if the storm were to roll out to sea.

Rain is the most likely form of precipitation from Virginia to near New York City then southeastern New England, with the air simply being too warm or the warm waters of the Atlantic Ocean exerting its influence. This includes Richmond, Va., Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Philadelphia.

We will feature a special edition of our AccuWeather LIVE show at 11:35 a.m. EST Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013, to discuss weather impacts on holiday travel. Be sure to send your holiday travel questions to @breakingweather on Twitter or ask them on our AccuWeather Facebook Page, and our expert senior meteorologists will answer your questions live.

If fresh cold air invades the storm, then there could be a period of snow over the mountains from northern West Virginia and western Maryland to central and northeastern Pennsylvania, upstate New York and western and northern New England. If this scenario pans out, major travel disruptions could be in store for portions of I-80, I-81, I-87, I-90 and I-91.

Only if the storm were to strengthen a great deal and draw more cold air in would there be a change from rain to snow in New York City, Hartford, Conn., and Boston.

For those traveling on Thanksgiving Day, the storm or its near-miss will likely have exited much of the region. However, the fresh cold air will be pouring across the East Coast.

RELATED:
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Recently ABC 7 New York's Chief Meteorologist Lee Goldberg told AccuWeather.com that the era of improved weather forecasting technology is a double-edged sword.

"The ability to predict a potential snowstorm a week in advance is great but leaves meteorologists with several days where it is hard to pinpoint specifics," Goldberg stated.

More details on the track of the storm and forecast for the Northeast will be released on AccuWeather.com as they becomes available.

More California Rain

A storm is forecast to move in from the Pacific Ocean during the middle of the week.

This storm will have the chance to bring rain to the I-5 corridor in California to part of Oregon Wednesday into Thanksgiving Day.

As a result, there is a chance of wet weather and perhaps travel delays from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Some snow is possible in the Sierra Nevada and over Donner Pass along I-80.

Such travel issues would not unfold until Thursday in Los Angeles.

Rest of the Nation

Much of the rest of the nation will have good travel conditions.

Beware, aircraft and flight crews originating from the South and Northeast could be delayed, perhaps causing ripple-effect problems with a few flights throughout the nation.

There will be bands of lake-effect snow over the Upper Midwest, due to fresh cold air moving in Tuesday and Wednesday. The lake-effect snow should diminish in most locations by Thanksgiving Day.

The track the storm takes in the vicinity of the Northeast will determine the trajectory of the lake-effect bands of snow across the Great Lakes.

While odds favor the snow streaming over areas southeast of the lakes, there is some concern lake-effect snow will sneak into Chicago and cause issues at O'Hare International Airport.

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