Storm on collision course with East Coast; travel could get hairy

<i>This post has been updated. See the note below for details.</i>

[Updated, 11:47 a.m. PST Nov. 25: The National Weather Service said Monday that a storm system was still on course to slam the East Coast and harry travelers, starting as soon as Tuesday.

“Given the recent very cold weather, the onset of the precipitation may be in the form of light snow or a wintry mix east of the [Appalachian Mountains],” the National Weather Service said in a Monday briefing. “Widespread moderate to heavy rain is likely from Tuesday night into Wednesday, and this will likely cause travel issues for Thanksgiving travelers.”

Heavy rains of 1 to 3 inches were expected across the South on Monday as the weather system advances northeast, meteorologists said. The West is expected to have the nation’s most pleasant weather after a large storm system trekked across the Southwest over the weekend.

The deadly winter-like storm was blamed for eight deaths in the Southwest on Sunday, and it disrupted hundreds of flights in a possible preview of Thanksgiving travel hassles.]


Meanwhile, an arctic air mass brought freezing temperatures to much of the Northeast and the upper Midwest in what the National Weather Service called the coldest weather of the season.

The wintry system slushed through New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas on Sunday, dumping heavy snow over several areas in New Mexico and sleet that forced the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport to “pre-cancel” about 300 flights.

“This is more of a January, February-type weather event,” National Weather Service meteorologist Dennis Cain told the Los Angeles Times, adding, “It’s not rare, but it’s not very common either.”

Fortunately for Texans, Cain said, temperatures have remained above freezing as the area braces for a band of icy weather early Monday. “By Thursday, we should have quite a bit of sunshine,” he said. “Should be no problem for people going to grandma’s house for Thanksgiving.”

The same can’t be said for the East Coast, where Sunday’s temperatures could “even be considered cold by January standards,” the weather service said.

With more than 43 million Americans expected to travel more than 50 miles for Thanksgiving, according to AAA, meteorologists expect the East Coast to get socked with rain and wintry storms on Wednesday -- the busiest day of Thanksgiving travel.

“Substantial snow will unfold from the spine of the Appalachians to the St. Lawrence Valley and far northern New England,” AccuWeather senior meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski said in a forecast for Wednesday, adding that the storm’s timing could not be worse.

Travel conditions were expected to be good for the rest of the country, according to AccuWeather.

Three deaths were previously reported in storms that battered parts of California on Saturday.

Two people in Oakland died Thursday in storm-related incidents; one man was apparently electrocuted when he was hit by a falling power line and tree branches, and a motorist died after crashing into a tree while trying to avoid debris. Also in Northern California, a woman was killed when a tree fell on her car.

The Associated Press reported Saturday that five more people died because of the storm: one in New Mexico, one in Arizona and three in Texas.


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Soumya Karlamangla contributed to this report.