Here’s how stormy weather could affect Thanksgiving travel

Here’s how stormy weather could affect Thanksgiving travel

Here’s how stormy weather could affect Thanksgiving travel


The window around Thanksgiving is one of the busiest travel stretches of the year. The Transportation Security Administration expects 2.5 million airline passengers to take to the skies on Wednesday alone, and that number could rise even higher this weekend. Nearly 55 million Americans, meanwhile, will drive 50 miles or more. Suffice it to say that the weather will be decisive for the next four or five days.

Weather forecast for the DC area: Smooth sailing through Thanksgiving Day, then rain chances return

While most travel before Thanksgiving is going to go smoothly, a pair of storm systems could make things difficult in the southern and eastern United States from Thursday through Sunday.

Across the West, the weather looks mostly quiet, although Portland and Seattle could see some rain — part of the same system that could bring snow to the higher elevations.

We take a look at what you can expect in the travel forecast city by city.

Ahead of a cold front that shoots east on Wednesday, moisture in the Gulf of Mexico will work its way north. That will bring showers and downpours Thursday, spreading from East Texas in the morning and eventually into Arkansas, southern Missouri and Louisiana. In the evening, showers may sneak into Mississippi and western Tennessee.

Thursday night, moisture flowing north along the front will lead to showers across the Ohio Valley, with heavier downpours rolling across the south. By Friday, a broken band of rain will extend from the Carolinas all the way into Quebec, with light showers along the Interstate 95 corridor in the Mid-Atlantic and New England.

All told, a general 2 to 3 inches is likely in East Texas, with about a half inch to an inch across most of the South, except for the Florida peninsula. A broad tenth to a quarter of an inch will fall as the light showers work across the Ohio and Tennessee valleys, with similar amounts into New England. South Carolina could see up to a third of an inch.

On Friday, a storm system will develop over East Texas that will work toward the Red River and southeast Oklahoma on Saturday. Ahead of the storm system, warm, moist air from the Gulf will flow north. That will allow rain across much of central and eastern Texas on Friday, coming immediately on the heels of System 1.

Behind the system’s center, northerly winds will draw in cold air from the north; moisture that wraps itself in the storm and rides up and over that cold air falls as snow. Breakable snow may fall in parts of the Texas Panhandle and Hill Country on Friday. A winter storm watch is in effect.

That system will then bring rain to the Lower Mississippi Valley on Saturday and then the Ohio Valley, Midwest, Mid-Atlantic and Northeast on Sunday.

Where the weather will be wet and unstable at times

  • Chicago: Mainly dry Wednesday through Saturday afternoon as highs cool from near 60 (Wednesday) to upper 40s (Saturday). The rain will arrive Saturday night into early Sunday.
  • Oklahoma City: A few showers Wednesday night into Saturday, but not a washout. Highs in the 40s and 50s, with lows in the 30s.
  • Wichita: Isolated to scattered showers Wednesday night into Saturday (and maybe a rogue snowflake), but not a washout. Highs in the 40s, with lows in the 30s. Sunny and near 50 on Sunday.
  • Washington DC: Dry through Thanksgiving. A few showers possible Friday with upper 50s. Near 60 on Saturday with some sun before showers return Sunday.
  • New York City: Sunny Wednesday and Thursday. Showers likely on Friday and Sunday with a break and partly sunny on Saturday. Highs in the 50s each of the three days.
  • Boston: Sunny and near 50 on Wednesday, with mid-40s and sunshine Thursday. Friday, Saturday and Sunday will be in the lower to mid 50s, with rain possible Friday and Sunday.
  • Atlanta: 60s through Sunday, when upper 50s are possible. Showers and/or rain intermittently from Thursday evening through Saturday evening.
  • Charleston: Isolated showers Wednesday and Thursday, with scattered showers Friday and Saturday night; an isolated shower hangs Sunday. Highs in the upper 60s, except for near 70 on Saturday.
  • St. Louis: Lower 60s and partly sunny Wednesday. Rain on Thursday and Saturday with only scattered showers on Friday. Upper 40s to lower 50s. Brighter skies and near 50 on Sunday.
  • New Orleans: Highs in the 70s through Friday, then upper 60s. Sunny on Wednesday, with showers, thunderstorms and rain on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Improvement Sunday. Heavy rain possible.
  • Dallas: Chance of rain and thunderstorms through Saturday morning. Rain totals of 1-2 inches possible. Highs in the upper 50s to lower 60s. The sun returns on Saturday afternoon. Heavy rain possible.
  • Houston: Sunny with temperatures near 70 on Wednesday. Showers likely Thursday and Friday, with highs falling from the mid-70s to the lower to mid-60s. Cool and sunny with mid 60s Saturday before the 70s return Sunday. Heavy rain possible.
  • Amarillo, Texas: Highs in the 60s with sunshine Wednesday. Highs around 40 with mixed precipitation Thursday, with mid-30s and possible snow/rain Friday. Sunshine returns with lower 50s on Saturday and Sunday.

Where the weather will be nice

Weather will be mostly fine across the central and northern Plains, Rockies and most of the West – except in Washington state and Oregon. Here’s a look at some sunny cities:

  • Denver: Breezy with lower 50s Wednesday, then cooler Thursday with an isolated snow shower. Higher in the upper 30s. Sunny and pleasant with highs in the 50s throughout the weekend.
  • Minneapolis: Isolated morning showers on Thanksgiving, but otherwise sunny with upper 30s to lower 40s each day through Sunday.
  • Albuquerque: Sunny with highs in the 40s and 50s for highs and lows in the 20s.
  • Phoenix: Sunny with highs around 70 each day and lows in the 40s.
  • Las Vegas: Sunny with highs in the mid 60s each day and lows in the 40s.
  • San Francisco: Sunny with highs in the mid 60s each day and lows in the upper 40s.
  • Los Angeles: Sunny with highs in the lower 70s each day and lows in the upper 40s. Sunday could be a bit cooler (upper 60s), with some morning fog.

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