Home Travel Thanksgiving travel forecast: Storm may affect eastern U.S. after holiday

Thanksgiving travel forecast: Storm may affect eastern U.S. after holiday

Thanksgiving travel forecast: Storm may affect eastern U.S. after holiday


An estimated 54.6 million Americans are expected to travel 50 miles or more for Thanksgiving this year, according to AAA. That’s a stark jump from last year and is just shy of pre-pandemic levels. And naturally, whenever travel is involved, the weather forecast is crucial.

It’s still too early to know exactly what may be in store for the Thanksgiving holiday, but the big picture and overarching pattern are coming into focus. It’s looking like a storm will develop over the Great Plains around Wednesday, shifting east while transferring its energy to a second fledgling storm that will intensify off the East Coast.

The weekend after Thanksgiving could feature inclement weather that may disrupt air travel while affecting road and rail conditions with wet weather for some and a plastering of snowfall for others.

Here we break down what we know, followed by an early region-by-region forecast.

On Tuesday, the weather pattern over the Lower 48 will feature predominantly zonal, or west to east, flow. That means air temperature near or slightly above average for most of the country, with little in the way of active weather.

That quickly changes into Wednesday, however. A weather disturbance will work ashore over the Pacific Northwest, bringing a few showers as it passes over the Columbia River Basin and northern Rockies.

By Thanksgiving, a strengthening storm system will begin draping warm, humid air from the Gulf of Mexico northward across the South and the Tennessee Valley, accompanied by showers and thunderstorms. Rain is likely over the southeast and the Ohio Valley on Friday. Then things become interesting on Saturday of the long holiday weekend.

Moisture gathering over the Carolinas will work north. At the same time, the main low-pressure system, which by then may be near the Appalachians, should shift its oomph into a new low developing east of the Delmarva Peninsula. The system will probably push northeast and could feature snow on its backside where the “cold air wraparound” chills the atmosphere. Significant accumulations in northern New England can’t be ruled out, though more than a week remains before this potential disturbance materializes.

What to prepare for when traveling

  • Where the weather will be nice: Most of the country except the coastal Carolinas, parts of the northern Plains and perhaps the extreme Pacific Northwest.
  • Cities/airports to watch: Charleston, S.C., may see some showers, as could Wilmington, N.C. There could also be some breezy crosswinds in Seattle that could affect flights, but any disruptions should be minimal.
  • Where the weather will be nice: Most of the West. In fact, temperatures of 10 to 15 degrees above average will be common across the Rockies, West Coast and the Desert Southwest. High pressure will be cresting overhead, which will stave off any inclement weather, like a magic force field of sunshine.
  • Cities/airports to watch: Oklahoma City; Dallas-Fort Worth; Wichita; Kansas City, Mo.: New Orleans: Memphis; Biloxi, Miss.; and Mobile, Ala., could be in the path of the developing storm system. Rain showers will be intermittent, but heavier downpours are possible. There could also be some gusty northwesterly winds over the Texas plains, perhaps between 35 and 40 mph, which could affect flights.
  • Where the weather will be nice: The Plains, the southwest, the West and parts of the Gulf Coast. There could be a rogue shower over the northern Rockies, but likelihood is low.
  • Cities/airports to watch: Nashville, Tampa, Orlando and Atlanta, home to the largest airport in the world, can expect rain and perhaps a few storms. Madison, Wis., Chicago, Detroit, Columbus and Indianapolis can expect a few showers, too. Much of the Interstate 95 corridor in the Mid-Atlantic could also see rain, including Raleigh, N.C., Washington, Richmond, Baltimore and Philadelphia. New York City, Boston and Hartford, Conn., could see rain, too, but it would be more likely late in the day. Heavy snow could become an issue in the interior Northeast, west of the big cities.

Given the forecast is nine days out, we’re at the end of the range in terms of how much we know with respect to timing. We expect continued rain in parts of southern New England.

Farther north, snow is likely in northern areas. If you live in or are traveling to Rutland, Burlington or Brattleboro, Vt.; Manchester or Concord, N.H.; or central or western Maine, including Augusta, Bangor or Presque Isle, you should be prepared for wintry weather.

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