Thanksgiving Day: widespread sun after a cold, wet mess

A storm which has dragged snow and ice across across California and the Southwest will charge up the East coast Tuesday and Wednesday, throwing holiday travel plans into a wet tangle in at least 20 states.

Stephen Robertson/The Lawton Constitution/AP
Chrissy Green and daughter Skyla take their turn down the hill at Cameron Stadium in Lawton, Okla., on Sunday, after a morning snowstorm left a blanket of inviting icy stuff on the slope.

A ferocious storm, which formed off the coast of California last week and coated the southwest and southern Plains with unseasonal snow and ice, is now lumbering toward the eastern part of the US. It is expected to gain momentum by joining forces with another pressure system currently forming in the Gulf of Mexico, before moving north and disrupting Thanksgiving travel on Wednesday, the biggest travel day of the year. 

"In the storm's wake, fresh, cold air will pour across the Eastern US for Thanksgiving Day," reports Accuweather. But, notes the forecasting service, winds could remain strong, which might impact festivities, including the balloon-filled Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.

With 37 percent of all holiday travelers planning to set out for their weekends on Wed., Nov. 27, Accuweather predicts widespread travel delays that will affect all of New England and the mid-Atlantic, reaching as far south as Georgia and as far west as central Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

The storm is expected to deliver 2 inches of rain and high winds along the East coast's I-95 corridor, Tuesday and Wednesday, according to meteorologist Dave Samuhel of Inland from that area, he forecasts six inches of snow across a broad area encompassing West Virginia, parts of Pennsylvania and New York, and northern New England.

AAA, the service organization for motorists, projects that 43.4 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles from their homes between Wednesday and Sunday, 90 percent of them by car. On average, they will venture 601 miles away from home, which is the distance between Chicago, Ill., and Chattanooga, Tenn., a nine-hour car trip.

About 1.5 percent fewer people are projected to travel than did last year, reports AAA. Thanksgiving 2012 may have been the peak of the post-recession travel rebound, after the 2008-2009 recession drove Thanksgiving travel down by 25 percent.  

“For those traveling, the good news is motorists will receive a holiday bonus in the form of lower gas prices, which are at their lowest levels for the holiday since 2010," said AAA Chief Operating Officer Marshall Doney, in a press release. In most states, reports AAA, drivers can now find gas being sold for under $3 per gallon.

Aside from rains in California and snow showers in the upper Great Lakes area, weather on Thanksgiving Day should be cause for gratitude after the passing storm; most of the country can expect a brisk but sunny day.   

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