Here, stormy weather could affect Thanksgiving travel

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

DC Area Forecast: Calm sailing until Thanksgiving Day, then rain may return

While most travel will be smooth before Thanksgiving, two storm systems could dice things in the southern and eastern United States Thursday through Sunday.

In the west, the weather looks mostly calm, although Portland and Seattle could see some rain — part of the same system that can bring snow to the higher elevations.

We’ll lay out what to expect in our city-by-city travel forecast.

Moisture in the Gulf of Mexico will act north ahead of a cold front moving east on Wednesday. That will result in morning showers and downpours spreading from east Texas and eventually to Arkansas, southern Missouri and Louisiana. In the evening, showers may creep into Mississippi and western Tennessee.

Moisture flowing north along the front will bring showers across the Ohio Valley on Thursday evening, with heavier downpours rolling across the south. Through Friday, an interrupted band of rain will extend from the Carolinas to Quebec, with light showers along the Interstate 95 corridor in the mid-Atlantic and New England.

Overall, a general 2 to 3 inches is likely in east Texas, with about 1/2 to 1 inch over most of the south except for the Florida Peninsula. A broad tenth to a quarter of an inch will fall as the light showers hit the Ohio and Tennessee valleys, with similar amounts heading to New England. South Carolina could see up to a third of an inch.

A storm system will develop over east Texas on Friday, moving toward the Red River and southeast Oklahoma on Saturday. Ahead of the storm system, warm, moist air will flow north from the Gulf. This will allow rain across much of central and east Texas on Friday, immediately following System 1.

Beyond the center of the system, north winds pull in cold air from the north; Moisture that wraps itself in the storm, riding on and above this cold air, will fall as snow. That could drop plowed snow in parts of the Texas Panhandle and Hill Country on Friday. A winter storm watch is in effect.

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

Where the weather will be wet and unsettled at times

  • Chicago: Mainly dry Wednesday through Saturday afternoon as highs cool down from near 60’s (Wednesday) to the upper 40’s (Saturday). Rain comes Saturday night early Sunday.
  • Oklahoma City: Scattered showers Wednesday night through Saturday, but no washout. Highs in the 40’s and 50’s, with lows in the 30’s.
  • Wichita: Scattered showers (and maybe a snowflake) Wednesday night through Saturday, but no washout. High in the 40’s, low in the 30’s. Sunny and almost 50 on Sunday.
  • Washington, D.C.: Dry through Thanksgiving. Some showers above 50 on Friday. Close to 60 on Saturday with partial sunshine before showers return on Sunday.
  • NYC: Sunny Wednesday and Thursday. Showers expected on Friday and Sunday with an interval and partial sunshine on Saturday. Highs in the 50’s on each of the three days.
  • Boston: Sunny and almost 50 on Wednesday, with mid 40’s and sunshine on Thursday. Friday, Saturday and Sunday will be in the low to mid 50s with possible rain on Friday and Sunday.
  • Atlanta: 60s to Sunday when upper 50s are possible. Intermittent showers and/or rain Thursday night through Saturday night.
  • Charleston: Isolated showers Wednesday and Thursday, with isolated showers Friday and Saturday night; a scattered shower continues on Sunday. Highs in the upper 60’s except near 70 on Saturday.
  • St.Louis: Low 60’s and partial sunshine Wednesday. Rain on Thursday and Saturday with only isolated showers on Friday. Upper 40s to lower 50s. Brighter skies and almost 50 on Sunday.
  • New Orleans: Highs in the low 70’s through Friday, then high 60’s. Sunny on Wednesday, with showers, thunderstorms and rain on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. improvement sunday. Heavy rain possible.
  • Dallas: Rain and thunderstorms possible at times until Saturday morning. Rain totals of 1-2 inches possible. Highs in the upper 50s to low 60s. The sun returns on Saturday afternoon. Heavy rain possible.
  • Houston: Sunny with highs near 70 on Wednesday. Showers likely Thursday and Friday with highs falling from mid 70s to low to mid 60s. Cool and sunny with mid 60’s on Saturday before 70’s on Sunday. Heavy rain possible.
  • Amarillo, Texas: Highs in the 60s in sunshine on Wednesday. Highs around 40 with mixed rain on Thursday, with mid 30’s and possible snow/rain on Friday. Sunshine returns with lower 50s on Saturday and Sunday.

Where the weather will be nice

The weather will be mostly fine in the central and northern plains, the Rocky Mountains, and most of the West — with the exception of Washington State and Oregon. Here’s a look at some sunny cities:

  • Denver: Breezy with below 50 on Wednesday, then cool Thursday with an isolated snow shower. Highs in the upper 30s. Sunny and pleasant with 50s through the weekend.
  • Minneapolis: A few Thanksgiving morning drizzles, but otherwise sunshine with high 30s to low 40s daily through Sunday.
  • Albuquerque: Sunny with 40’s and 50’s for highs and lows in the 20’s.
  • Phoenix: Sunny with daily highs in the 70’s and lows in the 40’s.
  • Las Vegas: Sunny with daily highs in the mid 60’s and lows in the 40’s.
  • San Francisco: Sunny with daily highs in the mid 60’s and lows in the upper 40’s.
  • Los Angeles: Sunny with daily highs in the low 70’s and lows in the high 40’s. Sunday may be slightly cooler (upper 60’s) with some morning fog.

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