As millions of Americans prepare for the annual pilgrimage to gather with loved ones for Thanksgiving, a series of severe storms looms on the horizon, threatening to disrupt travel plans and holiday preparations. The National Weather Service has issued warnings that a pre-Thanksgiving storm is set to impact travel from the central to the eastern United States early next week, with a cocktail of severe thunderstorms, gusty winds, heavy rain, and snowfall in the forecast.
On Monday, a low-pressure system moving through the Gulf of Mexico is expected to unleash severe thunderstorms across Louisiana and Mississippi. This system will then trek eastward, bringing rain and gusty winds throughout the central U.S. The central Plains, middle Mississippi, Ohio, and Tennessee valleys are all bracing for significant rainfall, which will extend into the night and reach metropolitan areas like Chicago, Indianapolis, and Cincinnati by the afternoon.
— AccuWeather (@accuweather) November 20, 2023
Tuesday’s forecast spells further trouble for travelers as the storms advance up the East Coast. The East Coast is set to be drenched, with cities such as Pittsburgh and Atlanta potentially experiencing windy thunderstorms that could lead to substantial travel delays. Fog and slick roads are anticipated to create hazardous driving conditions from the central Great Lakes to the Appalachian Mountains. Major East Coast airports, including those in Washington, D.C., and New York City, may face delays due to winds averaging 25-35 miles per hour, with gusts reaching up to 45 miles per hour.
The Northeast is bracing for a wintry mix, with northern Pennsylvania, upstate New York, Vermont, and Maine facing the possibility of freezing rain. Snowfall is also on the cards, with parts of New York and Massachusetts expecting one to three inches, while Maine could see up to a foot of snow between Tuesday and Wednesday.
The Thanksgiving travel rush is on, and a cross-country storm from the West Coast is expected to impact the Midwest and East Coast as early as Tuesday. CBS News’ Reed Cowan reports from Los Angeles. pic.twitter.com/7vnqDmugXH
— CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) November 20, 2023
As the storm pushes into the Northeast on Wednesday, it is predicted to encounter colder temperatures, leading to snowfall in northern New England, parts of northern Minnesota, Wisconsin, and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Boston is expected to bear the brunt of the heaviest rain on Wednesday morning before conditions clear up, improving driving conditions. Meanwhile, the Pacific Northwest, including Washington, Oregon, Montana, and Idaho, is forecasted to experience rain and mixed precipitation.
Thanksgiving Day itself is forecasted to bring dry conditions and cooler temperatures to much of the lower 48 states. However, snow is still expected in portions of New England and out West. The National Weather Service predicts temperatures to be 10-20 degrees Fahrenheit below average across the central and southern High Plains, with the central and western Gulf Coast region seeing highs 10-15 degrees below normal.
The cool temperatures are set to persist through Friday, with another storm gathering moisture over the Gulf of Mexico and the Southeast, hinting at wet weather for the weekend. However, the forecast remains uncertain for the end of the Thanksgiving weekend, as weather patterns can change rapidly.
Travelers are advised to consider these weather conditions when planning their journeys. AAA has projected that 55.4 million travelers will venture 50 miles or more from home over the Thanksgiving holiday, with an estimated 49.13 million traveling by car and 4.69 million by plane. With such high travel volumes, the impending storms could not have come at a less opportune time, underscoring the need for vigilance and flexibility in travel arrangements.
In conclusion, as families across America look forward to reuniting and giving thanks, they must also prepare for the potential disruptions posed by Mother Nature. It is a stark reminder of the power of the elements and the importance of staying informed and prepared for whatever conditions may arise.