Thanksgiving weather forecast: Big storm could disrupt travel in central USA

Doyle Rice, USA TODAY

A sprawling storm in the central U.S. could wreak travel havoc in the days before Thanksgiving: Snow, rain and even thunderstorms are possible across the region.

On Tuesday and into Wednesday, there is the potential for heavy snow and winterlike travel conditions with substantial delays to spread from eastern Colorado and northeastern New Mexico to parts of Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan as Thanksgiving travel surges, AccuWeather said.

This coincides with the worst time to hit the road, which is Wednesday afternoon, according to INRIX, a global transportation analytics company that partners with AAA to compile holiday travel data.

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"There could be a decent amount of snow in parts of the Plains," according to Weather Channel meteorologist Ari Sarsalari. 

Unfortunately, blizzard conditions are also possible in the Upper Midwest as the storm strengthens. A blizzard means heavy snow with winds of at least 35 mph and less than 1/4 mile visibility. 

Chicago could be in middle of the worst of the storm's wintry side or it may just avoid it, according to AccuWeather.

Areas farther to the east are also in the line of fire: "There is a chance the storm turns far enough to the east to allow some snow and/or a freeze-up in parts of Indiana, Ohio and western Pennsylvania late Wednesday and Wednesday night," AccuWeather meteorologist Max Gawryla said.

The same storm could also bring heavy rain and potentially severe thunderstorms across portions of the South.

"Depending on how quickly this storm system strengthens, we could be contending with severe thunderstorms from Arkansas and Louisiana through southern Indiana and western portions of Kentucky and Tennessee," according to AccuWeather senior meteorologist Randy Atkins.

A separate storm could also bring coastal rain and mountain snow to the Pacific Northwest both on Wednesday and on Thanksgiving Day. 

Contributing: Hannah Yasharoff, USA TODAY

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Thanksgiving weather forecast: Big storm could disrupt travel