Millions of Americans are heading home Sunday after the four-day Thanksgiving weekend on what may prove to be one of the busiest travel days of the year. Unfortunately, travelers may find their return trips delayed or made difficult by severe weather systems impacting several U.S. regions.
Post-Thanksgiving travelers need to pay special attention to the meteorological conditions in their departure and destination cities. Plenty of people’s Sunday travel plans have already been interrupted. As of 3:00 p.m. ET, a total of 2,564 flights into, or out of or within the United States have been delayed and 65 departures canceled today, according to flight tracking website FlightAware.
On Friday, forecasters said that the heavy showers and even snowstorms in some places, along with gusty winds that could intensify into tornados in certain areas, were likely to disrupt travel for millions taking to roadways and runways across the Pacific Northwest, Midwest, Southeast and, particularly, the Northeast.
This morning, a large storm system causing widespread heavy rains and thunderstorms was moving northeastward from the Ohio and Mississippi River Valleys toward the Great Lakes, the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions, USA Today reported. The oncoming extreme weather warnings prompted New York City’s three major airports to begin urging passengers to arrive early for their flights Sunday, as congestion and other headaches increased. New York’s JFK, LaGuardia and Newark Liberty International Airport posted messages on social media encouraging passengers to plan ahead and allow plenty of extra time to drive to the airport, secure parking, check-in and pass through security screening.
“The holiday season means high passenger volumes. If you’re planning to travel through Terminal A or B, take advantage of the FREE EWR VirtuaLine service and secure your spot in the security checkpoint line in advance,” Newark Liberty International Airport said on Twitter, as reported by CNN. “Due to the increased number of travelers during the holiday, allow extra time for travel, check-in and security,” it wrote.
Most significantly, the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic are seeing two separate storm systems converge, which could derail travel in major cities like Philadelphia, Boston, Baltimore and more. According to a National Weather Service (NWS) analysis, “showers will linger through Sunday night into early Monday across the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast as a storm system exits the region.”
Rain and powerful winds are also impacting midwestern cities like Chicago, Detroit and Green Bay, Wisconsin. In the Gulf Coast areas of Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, conditions are also compounding to create dangerously severe weather over the next two days before moving northward into Illinois and Indiana, The Weather Channel reported. Heavy rains could turn into large hail, with the downpour resulting in flash flooding, along with destructive winds and potentially even tornadoes.
Heavy rains and strong winds, with snow at higher elevations, are also affecting parts of the Pacific Northwest, making for hazardous travel conditions there, especially for those navigating the roadways and mountain passes. A winter storm watch is in effect until Monday for the Central Cascades region, with heavier rain and snowfall leading to one to two feet of snow, combined with gusty winds of up to 40 mph.
For the latest travel news, updates and deals, be sure to subscribe to the daily TravelPulse newsletter here.