Early indications are that the weather will cooperate for most holiday travelers over the Plains and West during the week of Thanksgiving, but there could be some problems in the South and East.
According to AAA, 43.4 million people are predicted to travel 50 miles or more from home for Thanksgiving. Ninety percent of the projected Thanksgiving travelers will drive, with most motorists paying the cheapest gas prices for the holiday since 2010.
By next week, the painful blast of wind-driven Arctic air invading the Plains this week and East this weekend will fade in most areas while a storm sinking southward in the West will move away.
Cold air, bands of lake-effect snow and flurries will linger over the Upper Midwest much of next week.
However, the same storm affecting the West this week is forecast to slide slowly eastward during the week of Thanksgiving.
For those hitting the roads or airways early next week, areas of rain and mountain snow will end over the Four Corners region, but rain will take a path toward the Gulf Coast. Drenching rain and thunderstorms will crawl eastward through the Deep South Monday into Tuesday.
In the wake of the Southwest storm, most areas in the Plains and West are likely to be free of rain and snow for the big travel day Wednesday. The only exception may be part of the immediate Pacific coast, where a bit of rain may arrive.
The speed at which this storm moves along and how sharp of a left turn the storm takes later next week is uncertain.
For most areas along the East coast and South, it will be a question of rain or not on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thanksgiving Day. Rain, poor visibility and low ceilings alone on Wednesday can lead to its share of major delays.
However, just enough chilly air may be in place beginning around the central Appalachians northward to New England for snow and ice, depending on the track, strength and timing of that Gulf Coast storm, which is likely to become an Atlantic coast storm.
According to AccuWeather.com Expert Senior Meteorologist Bernie Rayno, "Given the position of the southern storm and that fresh cold air is likely to hold back, the odds do not favor a snowstorm for the I-95 mid-Atlantic in this case, but rather a chilly rain coming up from the south."
The pattern remains progressive enough that a small difference in the storm's track could mean the difference between rain, snow or a dry forecast for many communities.
Early indications are the storm would swing northeastward across the southern Appalachians then the I-95 corridors in the mid-Atlantic later Tuesday, Wednesday into Wednesday night.
At this stage, it appears there is the potential for flight delays from heavy rain and thunderstorms in New Orleans Monday night. During Tuesday, flight delays are possible in Atlanta, Charlotte and other airports in the Southeast due to rain, storms, fog and low cloud ceilings.
There is a chance of rain-related flight delays spreading northeastward Tuesday night toward Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Philadelphia, unless the storm were turn more to the east and out to sea.
Rain on vehicle-clogged highways is better than snow but can still lead to poor braking and low visibility in blowing spray. Drenching rain increases the stopping distance in emergency situations and elevates the risk of multiple vehicle accidents. Driving at high speed increases the risk of your vehicle hydroplaning, even with new tires.
On the northwest fringe of the storm in the central Appalachians and perhaps in central and northern New England, snow is possible.
AccuWeather.com will continue to update the situation as more information comes in about the storm in the South and East next week.
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