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Large storm to cause Thanksgiving travel trouble in eastern U.S.



It’s going to be an unsettled lead-up to Thanksgiving in much of the eastern United States, as a large, moisture-loaded storm system sweeps across the region. The storm could slow air and ground transportation on Tuesday and Wednesday, two of the busiest travel days of the year.

After spawning severe thunderstorms across parts of the South on Monday, the storm will produce a large swath of heavy rain from the Tennessee Valley to the Mid-Atlantic Tuesday into early Wednesday.

The storm could also produce some wintry precipitation over parts of the Great Lakes Tuesday and interior portions of the Northeast Tuesday into Wednesday. Vermont, New Hampshire and interior Maine will see the greatest chances for accumulating snowfall.

By Thanksgiving Day and into Friday, a new storm system will begin to develop over the northern Rockies, which could bring light amounts of snow from western Montana into Colorado.

A third storm system may also attempt to develop over the South on Friday, and it could bring another wave of rain and snow to the East Coast into Saturday.

Travel trouble spots Tuesday and Wednesday

Tuesday looks to be a tricky travel day for much of the eastern U.S.

The day starts with wet snow or a rain-snow mix in southern and central Wisconsin, including Madison, before shifting into northern Michigan. While accumulations, if any, should be minor, the precipitation could reduce visibility.

To the south, rain extends from Chicago to the northern Gulf Coast while reaching east into the Appalachians. Some of this rain could be heavy. In the higher terrain of the central Appalachians, a little sleet or freezing rain is possible during the first half of Tuesday before precipitation transitions to rain.

Rain will also spread over Mid-Atlantic Tuesday, where it is expected to become moderate to heavy at times in the afternoon and evening.

By Tuesday night and early Wednesday, the worst of the weather will shift toward northeast Pennsylvania, New York and New England. While rain is expected at lower elevations and near the coast, snow or a wintry mix of precipitation will be possible in the interior, especially in the mountains.

Much of the precipitation should push off the coast by Wednesday evening, although some snow could linger in northern Maine until late at night.

Here is the forecast for some key areas:

  • Chicago — Rain continues through at least noon Tuesday. About an inch may fall, with temperatures in the 40s.
  • Atlanta — It’s wet and breezy through midday Tuesday, with an inch or more of rain forecast. Highs will be in the 60s.
  • Washington — Rain arrives around sunrise Tuesday and continues through dark. It’s breezy and raw, with highs in the 50s. Some of the rain could be heavy in the afternoon and evening, with totals of 1 to 2 inches expected.
  • Boston — Rain develops Tuesday night and lasts into Wednesday before tapering later day. It’s breezy, with highs in the 50s and about 1 to 1.5 inches of rain.
  • Berlin, N.H. — Snow begins falling Tuesday night, with several inches possible. Snow may mix with or change to rain Wednesday before possibly turning back to snow before ending. Highs are in the 30s.

As the storm in the Northeast shifts away, attention drifts toward the continental divide as the next Canadian cold front slinks southward and an area of low pressure develops along it.

While most of the country is dry, a couple of inches of snow may fall across Montana, Wyoming and Idaho on Thanksgiving, before spreading into Colorado toward Thursday night. Cheyenne and Denver could see some snow, but mostly as Thanksgiving is ending.

Temperatures will take a dive in Denver, with highs falling from the 60s on Wednesday to the 20s on Friday.

Here are forecasts for two locations in the region:

  • Idaho Falls — Snow showers may occur much of Thanksgiving Day, with light accumulations as highs reach the 30s. Snow showers end Thursday night.
  • Denver — It’s much colder but mainly dry on Thanksgiving Day. Snow showers develop Thursday night and last into Friday. Highs Friday 25 to 30.

Will there be a weekend storm?

Other than some lingering snow across the central and southern high plains of Colorado and New Mexico, much of the country sees a quieter Friday.

However, another storm may attempt to start developing in the Gulf of Mexico or the Southeast. For now, uncertainty is high regarding how it will evolve. Some showers are possible near the Gulf Coast and in the Southeast but it’s unclear whether the storm will climb northward along the East Coast. If it does, Friday night into Saturday night could be wet from south to north, with another chance of snow for the mountains and areas well inland from the coast.

Jason Samenow contributed to this report.

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