Last-chance look at national forecast for Thanksgiving travel weather

·6 min read

AccuWeather forecasters say that a largely quiet weather pattern should prevent widespread travel worries from the weather ahead of Thanksgiving. Even though much of the nation is forecast to have benign weather conditions in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, some Americans could still face minor weather-related delays during one of the busiest travel periods of the year - and weather for the trip home may be a different story.

A quick-moving storm in the Northeast won't be significant enough to cause the type of widespread Thanksgiving travel delays that were a concern last week. As millions take to the roads and skies, trouble due to rain, snow and wind will be kept to a minimum since the storm will be swiftly moving along.

Rain associated with the storm system's cold front swept off the Atlantic coast by Monday evening and was well offshore of most locations on Tuesday. Weather conditions improved along much of the Interstate-95 corridor as a result.

A wave of cold air will bring the lowest temperatures of the season so far from the Midwest to much of the East into Wednesday. Brisk winds accompanying the cold air will bring wintry AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperatures, which can dip as low as the teens Fahrenheit in the Midwest and Appalachians, the 20s in the coastal Northeast and the 30s in parts of the Southeast.

When cold air began sweeping over the Great Lakes, bands of lake-effect snow commenced early Monday morning over Lakes Superior, Michigan and Huron. Most of the lake-effect snow has since subsided, although enough snow could stick around to make it a white Thanksgiving in some of the hardest-hit areas.

Even after chilly winds and lake-effect snow subside, gusty crosswinds over the North Central states could cause some disruptions along Interstates 40, 64, 70, 80 and 90 through Wednesday.

The stiff winds can lead to minor to moderate airline delays at Chicago, Minneapolis, St. Louis, Detroit and Cleveland. Farther west, winds will flip around to the northwest in the wake of a cold front from Minnesota to Colorado. Winds ahead of and behind the cold front can frequently gust to 40 mph with locally higher peak gusts.

Meanwhile, in the Southeast, a widespread freeze is forecast for much of the interior Tuesday morning, Wednesday morning and even Thanksgiving morning.

"People heading to the South over Thanksgiving break should be prepared for cold weather tagging along," AccuWeather Meteorologist Brandon Buckingham said. He advised travelers to pack some warm clothes if heading south. Nighttime lows are forecast to range from the upper 40s to the lower 50s around the major theme parks in central Florida. That means that evening and morning conditions will be chilly for those spending time outdoors.


For people who live in the South but are traveling for the holiday, precautions against frozen pipes and water damage may be necessary as temperatures are forecast to spend a few hours below freezing late at night. Temperatures are forecast to dip into the middle 20s in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Columbia, South Carolina. Temperatures are forecast to dip to near freezing in Atlanta. A simple matter of not turning off the heat in the dwelling and letting water drip may be enough of a safeguard.

Beyond the fast-moving and exiting storm in the Northeast, the only other storm on the maps prior to Thanksgiving is a system expected to unfold in central and southern Texas at midweek.

AccuWeather forecasters say this storm will unleash locally heavy rain and travel delays across southern and eastern Texas and to Mississippi on Thanksgiving, but the system may weaken while heading farther to the east over the I-10 corridor on Friday. People in, around or traveling through Houston, San Antonio and Brownsville, Texas, on Thanksgiving Day, should be prepared for some street and highway flooding. A general rainfall of around an inch is anticipated with local amounts up to 2 or 3 inches possible.

A lack of major storms will also be the theme for the West in the days leading up to Thanksgiving.

A weakening storm is forecast to drop southeastward across the Rockies, triggering low-elevation rain showers and mountain snow showers. The air will be cold enough and the storm will have enough moisture with it to bring up to a few inches of snow over the passes in the Washington Cascades from Monday night to Tuesday evening. Motorists should expect delays and slippery conditions when venturing over Snoqualmie Pass along I-90 in Washington.

A series of storms was lined up over the northern Pacific on Monday morning, Nov. 22, 2021. The stormy pattern was a stark contrast to a fairly quiet weather pattern over much of the lower 48 states. (CIRA at Colorado State/GOES West)

The storm will bring some of the northern and central Rockies a bit of snow through Wednesday, much to the delight of skiers with big holiday plans. No appreciable rain or snow is forecast to fall east of the Rockies from the storm, including in the Denver area, which is in a historic snowless streak.

Farther west, good travel conditions are expected in Southern California through Tuesday. However, another moderate Santa Ana wind event is forecast to develop Wednesday and persist through Thanksgiving Day and into Friday.

While winds are likely to remain light as they often are over the Los Angeles basin during a Santa Ana, gusts in outlying areas can frequent 30-50 mph with AccuWeather Local StormMax™ gusts to 80 mph possible. The gusts could kick up dust, raise the wildfire danger and create dangerous crosswinds for motorists. Travel farther north in California should be relatively tranquil with no significant problems along I-80 and at San Francisco International Airport.

After the holiday, the weather in the northeastern and northwestern corners of the lower 48 states could be troublesome for the holiday trip home over the weekend. Storms that are forecast to blast British Columbia, Canada, with strong winds, heavy rain and mountain snow could graze parts of Washington from Thanksgiving Day into the weekend. Thanksgiving Day could be rather wet and stormy around Seattle.

Thousands of miles farther to the east, a southward dip in the jet stream has the potential to usher in even colder conditions and heavier lake-effect snow across the Upper Midwest and the Northeast from late Thanksgiving day to Saturday when compared to the round earlier in the week. A sudden drop in temperature that accompanies snow showers can lead to localized icy road conditions across the interior.

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