Major storm may precede rush of polar air in northeastern US prior to Thanksgiving

By Renee Duff, AccuWeather meteorologist
November 17, 2017, 9:32:14 AM EST

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A disruptive storm packing rain, wind and snow may evolve in the eastern half of the United States as Thanksgiving travel begins to ramp up late this week and into next weekend.

Motorists along major thoroughfares in the East could face slow travel and difficult driving conditions. Airline passengers may have to adjust flight times due to delays and cancellations.

Ripple-effect airline travel delays may result elsewhere across the country.

The storm will be spawned as polar air drops southward across the Midwest and East late this week and into the coming weekend.

“We will have to wait and see the exact storm track, but at least some travel delays can be expected across the Northeast from heavy rain, snow and some rather strong winds,” AccuWeather Long-Range Meteorologist Evan Duffey said.

Major Storm Potential Late Week 11.12 AM


Mild air will build ahead of the storm as lingering chill retreats. This could lead to a brief period of a wintry mix across the northern tier.

Farther south, a line of heavy rain and gusty, locally damaging thunderstorms can occur. The timing for the potential severe weather outbreak is most likely to be from Friday afternoon to Friday evening.

Static Severe Friday PM


“Any storms from the lower Ohio Valley to the Gulf Coast could produce damaging wind gusts and hail,” AccuWeather Lead Long-Range Meteorologist Paul Pastelok said.

If the cold air rushes in fast enough and hooks up with the back edge of the storm, some areas that start as rain could end with wet snow.

“Anywhere from northeastern Pennsylvania to central and northern New England back toward upstate New York could have a changeover to wet snow,” Pastelok said.

The central Appalachians and Great Lakes region could also be at risk of wintry precipitation. Should a secondary storm spin off near the coast, which can occur in situations like this, part of the Atlantic coast could be at risk as well.

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Regardless, strong winds will whip around the storm and may lead to further disruptions, such as tree damage and sporadic power outages. This risk will extend from the northern Plains to the Ohio Valley as the week comes to a close.

Areas downwind of the Great Lakes are likely to face a prolonged period of heavy lake-effect snow that persists into the early part of the week of Thanksgiving.

Static Lake Effect Snow this Weekend


While the air behind the storm might not be as cold as this past Friday and Saturday, the wind and chilly air will still be uncomfortable for many, according to Duffey.

“The colder conditions will even occur in the South,” Pastelok said.

Another dose of cold air, lake-effect snow and potential storm are likely to affect areas from the Midwest to the Northeast during the long Thanksgiving weekend.

People with Thanksgiving travel plans should continue to monitor the forecast.

“Regardless of the storm potential, people planning on traveling by car [for Thanksgiving] in the Northeast and Midwest should make sure their vehicle is prepared for winter travel conditions,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said. “A set of tires with decent tread, new wiper blades and adequate fluids are a good start in advance of the trip.”

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