Christmas Travelers Face More Snow, Ice, Storms
December 22, 2013; 2:54 AM
Similar to the days prior to Thanksgiving, the worst weather is occurring on the days prior to Christmas as millions of travelers take to the roads and skies in the United States and southern Canada.
According to AAA, 94.5 million people will travel 50 miles or more over the holiday season, spanning Dec. 21 to Jan. 1.
Most of the travel troubles will be caused by a single storm system that will continue to affect much of the Midwest and Eastern states through Monday.
The storm is bringing a wide variety of weather ranging from temperature extremes to heavy snow, ice, flooding rain and fog. While the worst of the severe weather is over, a few isolated gusty thunderstorms will still erupt on Sunday.
According to AccuWeather.com Severe Weather Expert Henry Margusity, "This is a spring storm stuck in a winter pattern that threatens to combine slippery travel and flight delays with the dangers of flooding and violent thunderstorms."
Weekend Snowstorm Spanning Thousands of Miles
The main storm this weekend began putting down snow across the northern Texas Panhandle and western Oklahoma on Saturday.
Heavy snow will continue along a northeasterly path on Sunday from the vicinity of southern Wisconsin to much of northern Michigan and across central Ontario, southern Quebec and northern New Brunswick.
The heaviest snow totals have and will continue to top 6 inches.
Ice and a wintry mix is also another concern for travelers with the storm across southern Ontario, along the St. Lawrence River in Ontario, northern upstate New York, northern New England and central and southern New Brunswick.
Enough ice had accumulated from Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri and Illinois on Saturday to down trees and cause widespread power outages. This will continue into northern New England and neighboring Canada through Sunday.
The snow and ice could bring vehicles to a crawl or possibly shut down portions of I-75, I-91 and I-94 in the U.S., and highways 2, 20, 40 and 401 in Canada. Numerous road closures were already being reported on Saturday.
Soaking Rain Spreading to the East Coast
A cold front associated with the storm system will continue to spread drenching rain and thunderstorms toward the Atlantic Seaboard through Monday. Downpours, poor visibility and locally gusty winds could cause travel delays during this time from Boston to New York City, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Charlotte and Atlanta.
Until then, much of the area will bask in record-challenging warmth.
The heavy rain on Sunday will remain focused on the area from near Mobile, Ala., to the central and southern Appalachians. Atlanta lies in this zone.
Some rain will reach Boston, New York City and Washington, D.C., before the day is over.
Episodes of dense fog could also be a player in slowing ground travel and causing flight delays on Sunday, especially from around the Great Lakes to the Northeast. Snow still covering the ground across parts of the Northeast will work to enhance dense fog formation.
The heavy rain will stretch from the Florida Panhandle to New Jersey on Sunday night, soaking Charlotte, N.C., Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia.
On Monday, most of the East Coast--with the exception of the Florida Peninsula--will be dealing with the soaking rain that threatens to slow down motorists and airline passengers.
Dangerous Thunderstorms, Tornado Risk
Farther south, Saturday brought damaging thunderstorms and tornadoes from parts of central Texas and Alabama to Indiana through Saturday night.
Luckily, the chance for severe storms lessens on Sunday and Monday. However, there could be some locally strong winds with the passing of the front across the mid-Atlantic and Southeast to start the new week.
Better Travel Conditions by Christmas Eve
In much of the Southwest, the weather will be good for travel through Christmas Day.
Flurries could coat the ground in parts of the Northeast during Christmas Eve, but much of this snow would not adhere to roads.
Some snow could fall across the Great Lakes and northern Plains on Christmas Day, and rain showers may hug the Atlantic Coast from Florida to North Carolina.
Over much of the nation, weather for Tuesday and Christmas Day will be conducive to traveling.