A deadly storm that is working its way through the Southeast is expected to become a nasty Nor’easter that is turning holiday travel into a morass and threatening the iconic Thanksgiving Day Macy’s parade with its fabled, but vulnerable, large character balloons.
The storm, which flew out of the west and is responsible for 11 deaths, is heading east, carrying snow, ice, rain and wind. It is working its way through Arkansas, according to the National Weather Service, and may have caused an isolated tornado in the Florida Panhandle.
Soaking rains have already hit parts of Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky.
Once it drenches the Southeast, the storm is expected to head north and east, bringing precipitation, including sizable snowfalls through Pennsylvania and parts of upstate New York. Storm warnings or watches have been posted through the region.
The storm is expected to disrupt travel plans across the eastern belt, which contains some of the nation’s busiest airports in New York, Philadelphia and Washington. Scores of flights have already been canceled, joining the almost 1,000 flights that were dropped when the storm plowed through Dallas. At least four airlines -- Delta, US Airways, United and JetBlue -- have announced that because of the storm they will waive the fees they charge to change travel plans.
Poor weather is also expected to create problems on roads, usually crowded with holiday revelers.
According to the latest weather projections, heavy rain and winds will hit the East Coast from the Carolinas northward. Rain could begin Tuesday afternoon in metropolitan New York, which would be a good thing since it might clear out some of the inclement weather in time for the annual Macy’s parade. Early weather projections are for sun, but high winds.
The parade features giant balloons of beloved cartoon and culture characters as the parade winds down the west side of Central Park, through midtown to the Macy’s flagship store at 34th Street. Winds can jeopardize the safety of the balloons and onlookers, so organizers are watching conditions.
“Based on the city’s guidelines, no giant character balloon will be operated when there are sustained wind conditions exceeding 23 mph and wind gusts exceeding 34 mph,” Macy’s said in a statement. “At this time, it is too early to make any determinations on the flight of the giant balloons.”
In 1997, a Manhattan mother was in a coma for 23 days when the Cat in the Hat balloon struck a light pole at 72nd Street and Central Park West – sending part of the lamppost crashing down and injuring four people. In 2005, two sisters visiting from Albany were injured in a similar accident near Times Square involving the M&M’s balloon.