Massive Storm Threatens To Snarl Christmas Holiday Travel Across US

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102 shares, 163 points

The week ahead is likely to be fraught with hazardous weather conditions that will probably interfere with both passenger travel and cargo transport across a vast stretch of the nation.

AccuWeather‘s expert team of meteorologists said on Sunday they’ve grown increasingly confident that a serious storm will emerge later this week, threatening to affect a wide span of the country—from the Plains to the Atlantic Seaboard—delivering heavy snow, rain, fierce winds and freezing temperatures.

For at least a portion of the storm, snow is forecast to extend from southern areas of the Plains across the Midwest to the Northeast, and possibly even the interior Southeast states, from Thursday through Saturday. Snowfall could arrive as early as Wednesday across the Western interior, and Denver can expect to see several inches on Wednesday night.

Due to a simultaneous surge of frigid air, which will take ambient temperatures to “bone-chilling” levels during the holiday weekend, the strengthening storm could create, “one of the most intense and prolonged periods of Arctic air in decades,” AccuWeather reported.

Adding to the atmospheric issues is the possibility that, with temperatures taking a sudden nosedive, the storm could produce a rapid freeze-up. Forecasters explained that even a small or moderate amount of snow, when accompanied by plummeting temperatures and high winds, can cause a quick freeze-up and treacherously slippery travel conditions. In this case, it’s a concern for regions of the Midwest, Northeast and parts of the lower Mississippi Valley.

The evolution of this inclement weather system comes at absolutely the most inopportune time, considering that the lead-up to Christmas Day is some of the year’s busiest travel days. And, that’s not even considering the holiday season’s heavy demand placed on retailers and, therefore, shipping companies to keep stores stocked and deliveries running on time.

Experts, who have been watching this storm’s potential since December began, can’t yet predict exactly how the gathering storm’s complex structure will evolve. It may split into two storms, for example, one tracking toward the Great Lakes and another coalescing over the Appalachians or along the Atlantic coast late in the week. If that happens, hazardous winter weather could span an especially large area, further worsening impacts around the Christmas holiday.

“The exact track of the storm will dictate which areas receive heavy snow versus heavy rain and the most significant impacts, but people and businesses in the eastern U.S., especially those traveling, should be extra alert and frequently check AccuWeather forecasts this week to stay updated on expected impacts,” said AccuWeather Chief Meteorologist Jon Porter.

Closeup on tires of a car driving in a snowstorm. (photo via iStock/Getty Images Plus/LeManna)

It’s recommended that holiday travelers who have any flexibility around their departure dates adjust their plans, where possible, to avoid the storm’s peak impact period, which is expected to arrive late in the week and continue into Christmas weekend.

“The storm’s enormous scope and intensity have the potential to leave people stranded on the highways and at the airports. Even if an airport is not in the storm’s primary target zone, delays at other travel hubs could cause a cascading effect in case aircraft and crews become displaced,” Accuweather said.

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Source: TravelPulse

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