Many Americans this year will have to weigh the Thanksgiving travel risks that come along with two major storms wreaking havoc from coast to coast.
The weather forecast on Wednesday for much of the U.S. calls for heavy snow, rain and blistering wind gusts. Some of the worst weather is expected at peak travel times in some of America’s largest cities. Some 55 million people are expected to travel over Thanksgiving.
California and West Coast
“This is not an ordinary storm,” the National Weather Service (NWS) warned. The NWS said a “bomb cyclone” is headed for Northern California and the southern tip of Oregon. The agency said the storm could be a weather event not seen in the area for over 20 years. Mountains in the area may see up to two feet of snow along with 35-foot waves along the coast.
If you travel south from there toward Los Angeles, you’ll be greeted with very heavy rain on Wednesday, which could last until the weekend. Kathy Hoxsie, an NWS meteorologist, told KTLA that the rainfall is expected during peak holiday travel, “of course.”
Winter storm watches, warnings and advisories touch the part of every state in the West from Arizona north all the way to Montana.
Both directions of Interstate 5 in California are closed between Yreka and Redding. So many vehicles have spun out in blizzard conditions, traffic can’t move through. Not even plows can get through, officials have reported.
UPDATE: NB/SB I-5 between Yreka and Redding remains CLOSED due the extremely large number of vehicles spun out along the interstate. Those vehicles must be removed in order to get traffic flowing normally and the road plowed. There is still no ETA for reopening.— Caltrans District 2 (@CaltransD2) November 27, 2019
A flash flood warning remains in effect for parts of southwestern California, including San Diego and Orange Counties, until Thursday night, the NWS said. Rainfall of 1 to 3 inches was expected in some parts of the coast and valley regions.
Strong winds with potentially damaging gusts of 40 to 50 mph are also expected in the region, and dangerous snowfall on surrounding mountains. Las Vegas may also see snow.
Heads up, the Spring Mountain Visitor Gateway will be closed Wednesday and Thursday (Thanksgiving), 11/27 & 11/28, due to the significant amount of snowfall forecast for the area by @NWSVegas. Weather permitting, the Gateway will re-open Friday. pic.twitter.com/s6keQsiobB— Go Mt. Charleston (@GoMtCharleston) November 27, 2019
Rockies and the Midwest
A separate historic snowstorm slammed Denver on Tuesday.
It dumped almost a foot of snow at Denver International Airport, forcing the cancelation of over 400 flights and stranding more than 1,000 travelers.
Sonya Washington came close to taking off. Her plane was de-iced and she made it to the runway, she told the Denver Post. But it was there that she waited–and waited– with her 2-year-old daughter. After two hours, the plane returned to the gate due to snow. She had hopes of making it to Atlanta, but the next flight won’t be Thursday night.
“Thanksgiving is over then,” she said.
The storm dumped nearly 3 feet of heavy snow in parts of north Colorado and closed long stretches of highways there and in Wyoming. One person was killed, and two others were injured when a tractor-trailer jackknifed and was hit by two other trucks on Interstate 70 near the Colorado town of Vail.
Blizzard and winter storm weather warnings extended into the Great Lakes states with the storm bringing very high winds and snow to Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
The storm could dump 6 inches of snow in central and southern Minnesota, while some areas could see 9 to12 inches. Blinding snow was already falling fast in southern parts of the state as the busy holiday travel day got underway.
After sweeping across the country, the storm is expected to arrive on the eastern coast on Wednesday or Thursday. It will be just in time for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York.
The storm system could mean disappointment for fans of the balloons flown during the parade. Organizers were preparing for the possibility of grounding the iconic characters because of 40-50 mph gusts in the forecast.
Rules were put in place after several people were injured by a balloon years ago. It requires balloons to be at lower altitudes or full removal if sustained winds exceed 23 mph and gusts exceed 34 mph.
The decision will be made on parade day.
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