High Winds, Stormy Weather Threaten Holiday TravelFlight delays, lake effect snow could effect travelers this weekend
By Meghan Evans, Meteorologist
High winds may result in flight delays for holiday travelers across the Northeast, while lake-effect snow around the Great Lakes may cause dangerous driving conditions.
Meanwhile, a storm train will continue to impact the West with rain and mountain snow. Travel may be difficult both in the air and on the ground.
Showers and locally dense fog from Texas into the central Gulf states may also lead to slow holiday travel at times.
See Flight Delay Risk Chart for Big U.S. Cities
AAA predicts that 93.3 millions Americans will travel 50 miles or more this holiday season, an increase of 1.6 percent compared to last year. Of that estimate, 90 percent (84.4 million) of them, more than a quarter of the U.S. population, are projected to travel by automobile. Meanwhile, air travel is expected to increase 4.5 percent from 2011.
High Winds May Delay Flights; Lake-Effect Snow May Cause Nightmares for Motorists
A storm that will first cause blizzard conditions across the Midwest during late-week will spread snow across the interior Northeast, northern and western portions of New York and northern New England on Friday. Rain will dampen the coast of New England.
Following the storm's cold front, very windy conditions will blast the Northeast by Friday evening. Early holiday airline travelers may run into some problems as a result.
RELATED ON ACCUWEATHER: Are you dreaming of a white Christmas? Check out the forecast here.
Snow will generally be winding down across northern New England on Saturday as the storm departs; however, other travel problems will linger. High winds will persist across much of the Northeast.
Areas just south of the eastern Great Lakes, including Cleveland, will endure the highest winds with gusts of 50-60 mph on Saturday. Flight delays and localized damage are possible with winds of this magnitude.
Winds gusting to 40 mph may lead to flight delays in Boston, New York City, Philadelphia and Baltimore.
Brisk winds will continue in the Northeast on Sunday, particularly across New England.
The cold winds will trigger lake-effect snow showers downwind of the Great Lakes through the central Appalachians Friday into the weekend. Motorists should be prepared for suddenly reduced visibility and slippery travel through snow squalls, including along I-90.
One to two feet of snow will fall over typical snowbelts of the Great Lakes, according to AccuWeather Expert Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski. Locally higher amounts are possible.
Rain, Mountain Snow May Cause Delays, Hazards in the West
Yet another Pacific storm will have an impact on portions of the West through this weekend. Low-elevation rain and heavy mountain snow will continue.
Southern Oregon and northern California are expected to receive the brunt of the heaviest rain. Travelers of the I-5 corridor should be prepared for blinding rain.
Flight delays will be possible in both San Francisco and Sacramento.
Meanwhile, heavy mountain snow is expected to clobber the northern and central Sierra. Travel along I-80, including Donner Pass, is likely to be impacted.
Low clouds and some rain will also cause some delays farther north, including in Seattle and Portland.
Snow in the Washington Cascades may lead to slippery and dangerous driving conditions along major mountain passes in Washington, including Snoqualmie, Stevens and White passes.
On Sunday, some low-elevation rain and mountain snow will also advance farther inland across Idaho, western Montana, Nevada, Utah and western Wyoming.
Late-Weekend Showers, Fog in the South
No weather-related travel issues are anticipated for the Deep South on Friday or Saturday as dry weather will dominate. Showers may blossom across portions of Texas into the central Gulf states as moisture is ushered in from the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday.
While the showers are not expected to be particularly widespread or heavy, there could be lowered visibility in isolated downpours along I-10 and I-20.
Depending on how strong the flow is from the Gulf, the potential exists for some areas of dense fog during the morning and midday hours Sunday. Travel along I-10 may be slowed in lowered visibility. Flight delays may be possible at times in Houston and Shreveport, La.
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