Thanksgiving holiday travel weather forecast is improving

November 21, 2021
A volunteer grabs a frozen turkey for a motorist at a drive-thru turkey giveaway event held in the parking lot of Zoe Christian Fellowship of Whittier in Whittier, Calif., Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021.
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  • AAA predicts more than 53.4 million people will travel this week, up 13% from 2020.
  • A foot of snow could fall around Lakes Erie and Huron.
  • Wind gusts of up to 70 mph are anticipated along parts of the Great Lakes coastlines.

Earlier forecasts that warned of snow and high winds threatening to bring havoc to millions of Americans traveling this week for the Thanksgiving holiday were being dialed back a bit Sunday.

The improving forecast comes as AAA predicts more than 53.4 million people will travel this week, up 13% from 2020. Even more dramatic is the increase in air travel, expected to rise 80% and almost completely recover from its dramatic pandemic fall in 2020.

“A storm that was threatening to bring some tricky weather to parts of the Northeast looks like rain for most of the big cities,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alan Reppert said. “It looks like things should be pretty good after Monday.”

Few flight delays were reported for Sunday and Monday.

Still, AccuWeather said a “potent piece of energy” was dropping down from Canada as it moved east, developing into a winter storm over the Midwest. Travel conditions could go downhill as the storm gains strength.

“Lake-effect snow bands are expected to breakout over the Upper Great Lakes” by Monday, National Weather Service Meteorologist Peter Mullinax said.

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Reppert said that could translate to a foot of snow around Lakes Erie and Huron. But any travel delays from this storm may be from high winds rather than rain or snow, AccuWeather reported. Wind gusts of up to 70 mph are anticipated along parts of the Great Lakes coastlines. 

Winds of up to 40 mph are possible in Minneapolis, Chicago and Milwaukee; locally higher gusts are possible in open areas. 

“Any disruptive weather on the days leading up to Thanksgiving could lead to big delays and, in some cases, have a domino effect across the country,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Brandon Buckingham warned.

Winter-like temperatures look to engulf much of the East as high pressure builds in Monday night into Tuesday morning, the weather service said. On Tuesday, cities along the I-95 corridor from New England into the mid-Atlantic can expect wind gusts of up to 40 mph.

A huge mess’: Big storm could disrupt Thanksgiving travel next week

Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving and historically the nation’s biggest travel day of the year, will bring gusty winds, rain and a bit of snow to the Midwest and rain and wind across the South Central states.

Reppert said it’s not likely to cause too  much travel disruption. 

“It should be fairly quiet,” Reppert said.

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