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Thanksgiving travel forecast: Rain to drench New England; Wintry mix to slick roads over Upper Midwest

By Alex Sosnowski, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
November 22, 2017, 1:39:02 PM EST

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Rain may slow travel for a time in New England, while significant travel delays are likely in the Northwest and over the Upper Midwest leading up to Thanksgiving.

The period now through Thanksgiving Day represents some of the busiest travel of the year for all means of transportation, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA).

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While the weather will cooperate for a large portion of the nation, there will be some areas of concern for holiday travel.

Rain to soak New England

In lieu of a major storm, a weak storm will continue to roll northward along the Atlantic coast prior to Thanksgiving Day.

Rain that brushed the coastal Carolinas on Tuesday night and the mid-Atlantic coast Wednesday morning will continue to affect part of New England into Wednesday night.

Northeast regional 11.22

The greatest impact will be to motorists.

Wet road surfaces and blowing spray may require lower speeds.

"The combination of rain and a low cloud ceiling may also be enough to lead to airline delays in Boston for a time on Wednesday," according to AccuWeather Chief Meteorologist Elliot Abrams.

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A brief period of rain and snow is in store on the back side of the storm over the northern Appalachians and eastern Great Lakes into Wednesday evening.

"Regardless of the amount of rain and/or snow showers, gusty winds are likely to herald the return of the cold air on Wednesday," Abrams said. "Winds may pose a problem as the massive balloons are inflated ahead of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City."

Minor airline delays and low-level turbulence can occur in the Northeast corridor into Wednesday evening.

For those heading to the Sunshine State, spotty rain showers will accompany the warmth into Wednesday evening.

A storm is forecast to bring more rain to parts of Florida on Thanksgiving Day, according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Faith Eherts.

Much of the balance of the East can expect dry weather for travel on Thanksgiving Day.

Wintry mix episodes to pester Upper Midwest

A new burst of cold air and a weak storm are forecast to produce spotty snow for the northern tier of the Midwest into Thanksgiving Day.

As a pocket of arctic air races southeastward, it will briefly renew lake-effect snow from northern Michigan to northern and western New York and Pennsylvania into Wednesday evening.

Motorists should be prepared for sudden snow showers and rapidly changing road conditions on their travels in these areas.

From late Wednesday to early Thanksgiving Day, a period of snow and freezing drizzle will slice southeastward from North Dakota and Minnesota to the western Great Lakes.

Static North Central Wednesday

While only a small amount of wintry precipitation is anticipated, even a thin coating of snow or ice can cause great difficulty for motorists on crowded highways.

Storms to harass travelers in northwestern US

By far, poor travel conditions will be the most consistent in coastal areas of Washington and Oregon through Thanksgiving Day.

Motorists venturing along the Interstate 5 corridor in the Northwest can expect rounds of drenching rain and periods of fog, according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Kyle Elliot.

Lesser rain is forecast east of the Cascades.

Wednesday Travel 11.22 AM

Snow levels are forecast to rise slowly into Thanksgiving Day.

Milder conditions will allow plain rain to fall on Snoqualmie Pass along I-90 in Washington into Thursday. However, fog may accompany the milder air over the mountains, where snow remains on the ground.

The milder air will allow rain to fall or a mixture of rain and snow to occur at most intermediate elevations of the northern Rockies, including many of the major passes.

Major weather-related travel disruptions unlikely over rest of US

It is possible that flights originating from the Northwest, coastal Northeast and Upper Midwest may cause minor delays elsewhere across the nation into Thanksgiving Day.

Static Thanksgiving Day

However, a large portion of the Southwest, South-Central and interior Southeast can expect good travel conditions.

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