Where could the weather impact Thanksgiving travel plans in the US?

By Renee Duff, AccuWeather meteorologist
November 20, 2018, 12:10:11 PM EST

The weather will cooperate for a majority of those traveling by road or air for the Thanksgiving holiday, with some exceptions in the northeastern and western United States.

The American Automobile Association (AAA) is projecting that 54.3 million will travel 50 miles or more away from home for the Thanksgiving holiday this year.

Even in the absence of disruptive weather, the sheer volume of vehicles on the road in congested metro areas may cause travel time to double, triple or quadruple, according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.

People traveling for the holiday can download the AccuWeather app to find out exactly when the weather could add further slow-downs to their journey.

Thanksgiving travel AP

Traffic streaks across the Francis Scott Key Bridge linking Virginia and Washington, D.C., at the start of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2017. (AP Photo/J. David Ake)

Snowflakes to fly in Northeast

The early taste of winter is expected to continue across the Northeast with batches of snow sweeping through the area and resulting in slick travel on occasion in the days leading up to Thanksgiving.

Motorists should prepare for possibly slick and snow-covered portions of interstates 75, 81, 87, 90, 91 and 95 in the days ahead.

The greatest disruptions to travel may occur into Tuesday from portions of New York to Maine as a strengthening storm system lays down a swath of accumulating snow.

Snow showers will also riddle the eastern Great Lakes and central Appalachians on Tuesday, potentially reducing visibility on the roadways.

Tues NE Snowfall Static

Yet another round of snow is expected across parts of the Northeast on Wednesday.

"There is concern that snow squalls could greatly reduce visibility and quickly coat roadways on Wednesday's busy travel day across the interior Northeast," according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Steve Travis.

"These squalls may not just be limited to areas downwind of the Great Lakes but may streak eastward into northeastern Pennsylvania and/or the Hudson Valley and western New England."

Wed Snow Squalls Static

These type of weather situations are notorious for causing chain-reaction accidents.

Meanwhile in the Midwest, patches of light freezing drizzle may break out Wednesday night, creating slick patches for motorists, especially on bridges and overpasses.

Rain to dampen travel in southeastern Texas

Travelers in southeastern Texas that contended with reduced visibility and wet roadways on Monday will welcome improved weather conditions on Tuesday.

A press of drier air will shunt the rainfall southward on Tuesday, leading to a good day for travel along the Interstate 10 corridor from San Antonio to Houston.


This dry press may hold firm on Wednesday, with damp conditions likely being held to southern and coastal Texas.

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Storm to arrive along West Coast at midweek

Reduced visibility from wildfire smoke will be the main concern for travelers in California again on Tuesday.

However, a pattern change will bring needed rainfall to the state starting on Wednesday.

While rain is not normally a welcome idea during busy travel times and near the holiday, any rain with a lack of strong winds would greatly favor firefighting efforts and reduce the risk of new fires igniting, according to Sosnowski.

Despite the good news of rainfall, motorists will face slick roads as oil buildup from weeks of dry weather mixes with the rain.

Heavy snow is expected over the Sierra Nevada by the end of Wednesday. Travelers over I-80’s Donner Summit should anticipate snow-covered roads, reduced visibility and possible closures.

Rain will also spread into Portland, Oregon, and Seattle at midweek, heightening the risk of minor travel delays.

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