Holiday forecast: Storm clogs weekend travel, but Christmas looking calm

A sprawling winter storm this weekend is expected to create a sluggish start for holiday travelers, spreading snow, ice, flooding rains and possibly tornadoes to parts of the country.

Nam Y. Huh/ AP Photo
Passengers walk through Terminal 3 at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago on Friday, Dec. 20, 2013. Rain will continue in the area through Friday with some light freezing drizzle, according to weather reports.

A giant winter storm is threatening to clog holiday travel this weekend with a wide variety of hazardous weather across the country, ranging from flooding rains and possible tornadoes in the South to heavy snow to the north and ice in between.

On Friday, rain and snow were scattered from the southern Midwest and Illinois into northern New England. Although few flights had been canceled by midday, the weather was taking a toll on air travel: FlightStats.com reported more than 1,300 US delays, with the most at Chicago's O'Hare, Denver International, and the three big New York-area airports.

Over the weekend, the sprawling storm is expected to cause the bulk of travel interruptions, according to accuweather.com This storm is likely to affect major airport hubs from Dallas to St. Louis, Chicago, Detroit, Atlanta, New York City, and Boston, the weather website reported.

It will scatter snow over the Texas Panhandle and Western Oklahoma before heading northeast over central Kansas, continuing in a diagonal path over the Midwest and into Canada. Meteorologists are predicting up to 1 foot of snow in parts of the Midwest this weekend.  

Downpours, gusty winds, and poor visibility are likely to delay flights along the East Coast, accuweather.com said

The National Weather Service reported the possibility of tornadoes along the central Gulf Coast – in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi – on Saturday night as unseasonably warm air from the Gulf collides with cold air traveling south from the northern United States.

"I think there's a high likelihood there will be severe storms with hail and damaging wind" in parts of the South, said Tom Kines, an AccuWeather meteorologist. "Whether or not there's tornadoes, that's tough to say, but I will say the conditions are right."

While tornadoes are far more common in the spring and summer, they have struck in winter before. A tornado outbreak on Christmas Day 2012 reached from northeastern Texas through central Alabama — one twister hit Mobile, Ala. A tornado on Dec. 16, 2000, killed 11 people in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

AAA projects 94.5 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during this holiday season.  

The bad weather is expected to give way to sunny skies and moderate temperatures over most of the United States by Christmas Eve on Tuesday, with some patches of snow and rain but mostly mild conditions, said meteorologist Chris Dolce of The Weather Channel in an interview with Reuters.

"The map really clears out," he told the news agency.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report. 

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.