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Storm Threatens Christmas Eve Travel Delays From NYC to Detroit, Atlanta

By By Alex Sosnowski, senior meteorologist.
December 26, 2014, 8:55:17 AM EST

A storm bringing heavy rain, wind, fog, thunderstorms, a swath of snow and travel delays is converging on the Northeast, Midwest and South this Christmas Eve.

The storm will impact the major airport hubs of New York City, Detroit and Atlanta, as well as the major cross-country routes such as I-95 and I-80.


Problems due to wind will continue in the Northeast into Christmas Day.

Jump to: Fog, Low Clouds to Reduce Visibility in Great Lakes and East | Drenching Rain to Raise Flooding Risk in Northeast | Strong Winds, Turbulence Could be a Snag for Airline Passengers | Snow to Create Hazardous Travel in Michigan

Fog, Low Clouds to Reduce Visibility in Great Lakes and East

As warmer air surges northward with the rain, the risk of travel delays due to fog will increase.

According to AccuWeather Chief Meteorologist Elliot Abrams, "Areas and episodes of fog can be a problem for travelers in the Midwest and Northeast into Wednesday night."

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Colder Air, Snow Showers Return to Northeast Christmas Day

Low ceilings and fog could lead to flight delays at times from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia, New York City and Boston.

Drenching Rain to Raise Flooding Risk in East

For many people traveling by ground and air, rain will be an inconvenience. However, enough rain can fall at times to cause poor visibility, while roads are jammed with vehicles. Excess water on the roads will reduce the braking action and increase the distance required between vehicles in an emergency situation.


Enough rain can fall to cause urban and poor drainage flooding in the I-95 corridor through Wednesday night.

Check the start and stop times of rain, including when the most intense rain will arrive, using AccuWeather MinuteCast® for your location.

According to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Henry Margusity, "We are concerned about rapidly melting snow, combined with heavy rain leading to a stream and river flooding situation in northern New England during Wednesday night into Christmas Day."

Winds, Turbulence Could be a Snag for Airline Passengers

One of the most common causes of flight delays is wind, especially where it blows perpendicular to runways.

Gusty winds blowing from the south may lead to flight delays along the East Coast through Wednesday evening.

Increasing winds from the west may cause similar problems throughout the Midwest on Christmas Eve with the risk expanding to the mid-Atlantic and Northeast on Christmas Day.


The strongest winds are likely in the lower Great Lakes and in New England late Wednesday into Thursday, when gusts could reach 50 mph. Some of the gusts in the East and South will occur in thunderstorms. Gusts could approach 45 mph around New York City on Thursday.

Turbulence due to the storm has already been reported with more issues likely to unfold during and in the wake of the storm.

"Those flying south to north or north to south from the southern U.S. into the Great Lakes are more likely to encounter prolonged strong turbulence through Wednesday evening," stated Senior Meteorologist Dan Kottlowski.

Violent turbulence can also be experienced for a time on flights crossing this part of the nation in an east-to-west or west-to-east fashion.

A period of onshore winds can also lead to minor coastal flooding from the coast of New Jersey all the way up the coast of Maine.

The storm system will become strong enough to produce a period of drenching rain and and severe thunderstorms in the South.

Snow to Create Hazardous Travel in Michigan

While much of the South, mid-Atlantic and New England will be spared of travel problems from snow with this storm, significant travel delays and dangers will develop across a narrow zone of the Great Lakes on Christmas Eve.


As colder air wraps into the backside of the storm, rain will continue to transition to snow across lower Michigan and neighboring northern Indiana through Wednesday night.

Several inches of snow will fall by Christmas morning, guaranteeing a white Christmas. However, roads will become treacherous for motorists as gusty winds also whip the snow around and reduce visibility.

The heaviest snow will focus on central Michigan, in between Chicago and Detroit. Snow showers will struggle to accumulate in these cities.

Check AccuWeather MinuteCast® for your location before heading out on the roads. It will show you the start and stop times of precipitation over the next two hours, and it will show you when rain will change over to snow.

Meanwhile, as one storm targets the Midwest and Northeast on Christmas Eve into Christmas Day, another storm will affect a large part of the West with snow around the same time.

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