Travel Center: Today's Greatest Hazards in Midwest, South

By By Kristina Pydynowski, Senior Meteorologist
November 25, 2010, 12:09:54 AM EST

Wednesday's Update on Interstate Travel for Thanksgiving Week:

One of the nation's busiest travel days of the year has arrived and is not expected to pass without substantial delays for motorists and airline passengers. The greatest problems are expected in the Midwest and South.

Northeast and Great Lakes (ME, VT, NH, MA, CT, RI, NY, PA, NJ, MD, DE, VA, WV, KY, OH, IN, MI)

Rain invading the Ohio Valley today will spread over the central and eastern Great Lakes tonight into Thanksgiving Day.

The air will be cold enough for snowflakes to initially mix with the rain in Lower Michigan this afternoon into tonight. It is over Upper Michigan where the snow will accumulate and coat roadways.

As the rain reaches the mid-Atlantic late tonight into the morning of Thanksgiving, an icy mix threatens to first glaze central Pennsylvania and southwestern New York.

Enough of an icy mix may fall to create slippery travel along Interstates 80 and 99 in central Pennsylvania, as well as Interstate 86 just east of Jamestown, N.Y.

Also on Thanksgiving Day, heavy thunderstorms will lead to ponding on roadways and reduced visibility from Pittsburgh, Pa., to southern Indiana and northern Kentucky. The rain and thunderstorms may end as a period of snow from west to east Thursday night into Friday.

As frigid air blasts eastward, lake-effect snow will also develop downwind of the Great Lakes from west to east Thursday night into Friday. Expert Senior Meteorologist Henry Margusity reported on Tuesday that motorists can "expect delays along I-90 and I-81 in New York and along I-80 and I-90 from western New York through Ohio by Saturday."

Southeast (NC, SC, GA, FL, TN, AL, MS)

Warm air flowing into the Southeast will prevent snow or ice from developing and creating travel problems. However, low clouds and dense fog that formed from the central Gulf Coast to the southern Appalachians Wednesday morning was enough to cause problems.

Conditions will improve the rest of the day. However, the ripple effect from flight delays that ensued this morning could continue to impact airline passengers this afternoon.

Midwest and Northern Plains (WI, IL, MN, IA, NE, ND, SD)

Accumulating snow will continue to create slick roadways from far eastern Montana to the western shores of Lake Superior today, while ice leads to extremely slippery travel from eastern Nebraska to central Wisconsin.

The News Story "Snow, Ice Creating Travel Trouble in the Upper Midwest" further details the dangers travelers will face across these two regions.

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Southern Plains (KS, AR, MO, OK, TX, LA)

Severe weather will develop from eastern Oklahoma to southern Missouri this afternoon and evening. The thunderstorms may produce damaging wind gusts and tornadoes.

Those traveling on Interstates 40, 44 and 55 could find themselves in harm's way from the raging violent thunderstorms.

Less than 24 hours after the severe weather danger, southern Missouri and northwestern Arkansas could see a band of rain end as sleet or freezing rain on Thanksgiving Day.

Rockies (NV, UT, ID, MT, WY, CO)

Hazardous travel will persist through the mountain passes in Colorado and northern New Mexico today. Not only will snow continue to accumulate, but howling winds will further blow and drift the snow around.

A bit of snow will also persist over the mountains of southwestern Montana, western Wyoming and the Wasatch Mountains of Utah today.

Even where snow is not falling, all motorists planning to travel through the Rockies are urged to pack a winter survival kit. Brutal cold gripping the region will put anyone whose vehicle stalls or gets stuck in the snow in an extremely dangerous situation.

West Coast (WA, OR, CA)

Chilly air will continue to grip the West Coast today. The core of the harsh cold will freeze eastern Washington and eastern Oregon, where highs will be held to the teens and single digits.

Dry weather will generally encompass this region with an area of high pressure in control. The position of that high will initiate a moderate Santa Ana wind event tonight into the morning of Thanksgiving Day across Southern California.

The strength of the winds could overturn semi-trucks, campers or other high-profile vehicles.



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