Winter Storm to Impact the East Coast, Likely to Cause Huge Thanksgiving Travel Headaches
Just when you thought the holiday travel season couldn’t get any worse, a large winter storm is likely to impact some of the nation’s populated cities; on the busiest travel day of the year.
A strong coastal storm, which is likely to start dropping snow early Wednesday, will race up the East Coast — wreaking havoc along the I-95 corridor and slowing travel in at least four major metro areas.
According to a news release from AAA, more than 46 million Americans are expected to travel for Thanksgiving, this year. Nearly 90 percent — 41.3 million — of those travelers will journey by car and 4.3 million people will take to the skies.
And when you couple the sheer volume of travelers with inclement weather, you’ve got a recipe for long travel times and short tempers. So, what can you expect on your trip?
WeatherNation has a complete breakdown of the latest forecast and how that will affect you on the roads and in airport terminals:
Late Tuesday, a potent upper-level low will begin to swing out of the the Gulf of Mexico, pushing moisture and atmospheric energy northward. This will aid in the formation of a surface low just off the coast of Charleston, S.C. in the overnight hours of Tuesday. Rain — heavy at times — will be ongoing from north Florida to the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
Weather Across the Northeast Megalopolis will still be fairly placid, but don’t expect that to last too long.
By the early morning hours of Wednesday, cold air will be filtering in across the Appalachian Mountains and the transition from rain to snow will be well under way. The models are indicating snow will begin falling across the Appalachians — from North Georgia through the Shenandoah — sometime between midnight and 5 a.m. And will quickly begin to spread north. While there remains some uncertainty on whether or not D.C. will see any snow, current forecast guidance suggests the freezing line will be just west of the District. If the storm bobble slightly east, snow could fall in the city.
The coastal low, responsible for the bad weather, will likely be situated just off the North Carolina Outer Banks — bringing heavy rain from Wilmington, N.C. to Virginia Beach, Va.
By midday, the coastal low will be rocketing up the East Coast. The system will likely be located east of the Chesapeake Bay, pushing tons of moisture across Maryland’s Eastern Shore and into Northern Virginia.
Snow, which could be heavy at times, will be falling across the western suburbs of D.C. and further west. Anyone traveling along I-95 from Baltimore to Boston is likely to have a rough go of it. Heavy snow rates could cause limited visibility and slick spots on the roads. Use caution if you’re driving in this area.
From the far western suburbs of D.C. to west of Baltimore, the National Weather Service in Sterling, Va. — which services the Washington-Baltimore area — says up to six inches of heavy, wet snow could caused downed tree limbs and power outages.
As mentioned above, snow totals in D.C. proper are a bit trickier to nail down at this time, since the freezing line is so close to the city. If the storm bobbles slightly east, it’s more likely to be a snow event and if it bobbles west, rain will probably be the main mode of precipitation.
State and local officials are urging residents to be prepared for the adverse conditions.
Snow will also begin falling in places like Philly, New York City and even Boston by the late afternoon hours. Winter storm watches have been issued for parts of the NYC and Boston Metro areas and travel could become treacherous as the afternoon progresses. Watches for the cities themselves are still being mulled over by National Weather Service meteorologists.
Wednesday evening, snow is likely to be falling, from Orange County, N.Y. all the way to New York City. The National Weather Service in New York City says 6 to 10 inches of snow isn’t out of the question for parts of the Hudson Valley and northern New Jersey.
Forecasts also suggest 4 to 6 inches of snow is possible in NYC, as well. This could have a significant impact on all three NYC-area airports, which are major hubs to at least four airlines.
If you’re traveling in these areas, give yourself plenty of time to make it to your destination and pack your patience at the airport.
The weather in Boston will also begin to change later in the afternoon, as rain transitions to a rain-snow mix after 4 p.m., local time. The change to all snow won’t come until later in the night.
Wednesday Night/Thursday Morning
Through the overnight hours, snow will fall in the Boston area — potentially creating some slick spots by early Thursday morning. The coastal low will be over the Canadian Maritimes by Thanksgiving morning and the associated precipitation will taper off by noon.
In the wake of the storm, cold — but nice — weather will be on tap for most of the region.
This is a fluid meteorological situation and the forecast is likely to change in the coming hours and days. WeatherNation meteorologists will be keeping a close eye on the system and will bring you the latest on the forecast as new model runs come into the newsroom.
Check back with us frequently for updates.
Meteorologist Alan Raymond