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Posted at 11:24 AM ET, 12/21/2012

Christmas travel weather: wind and snow spell trouble in some spots


Today into Christmas Eve, many people will take to the roads and the sky for holiday travel. On the plus side, the worst of Thursday’s Midwest blizzard is over, but very strong winds and pockets of snow on the storm’s backside will create hazards in the eastern third of the U.S. through late Saturday. Stormy weather will also occur in northern California.

Here’s a look at where weather may create travel headaches...

Today into Saturday: Very strong winds - gusting over 50 mph at times - bring the potential for airport delays across much of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. Wind advisories, high wind warnings, and high wind watches are in effect in many areas. Check your flight status before leaving.

Links: FAA Delay information | Live airport delays/airport status | National radar

In terms of road travel, trouble spots will concentrate downwind of the Great Lakes and along the western slopes of the Appalachian and Alleghany mountains in the Mid-Atlantic where a combination of very gusty winds and snow will pose challenges for travelers.

Cities that will be affected in this region include: Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Detroit - where winter weather advisories and winter storm warnings are in effect into Satuday.


Snowfall predicted by NAM model through 7 p.m. Saturday (WeatherBell.com)

Some of the worst travel conditions will be at the high elevations of western Maryland, northeast West Virginia and southwest Pennsylvania (western Allegany slopes) where blizzard warnings and winter storm warnings (southwest Pa.) are in effect for 6 to 12 inches of snow and wind gusts to 60 mph. Visibility will be close to zero at times, and travel is discouraged through this region. In other words, driving to ski resorts like Wisp, Canaan Valley, Timberline, and Seven Springs will be difficult into Saturday.

Very hazardous travel is also likely immediately downwind of Lake Superior, Michigan, Erie and Ontario due to increasing lake effect snows and wind.

In parts of south central Wisconsin and eastern Iowa - which received 10-20 inches of snow Thursday - blowing snow will reduce visibility and lead to treacherous travel conditions.

Along the West Coast, rain and mountain snow may cause some delays for travelers in central and northern California as well as southern Oregon.

Sunday and Christmas Eve: Fortunately, weather quiets down in the East. It will be dry Sunday and winds will no longer be a significant issue. On Christmas Eve, a weak area of low pressure will develop in the Tennessee Valley with some light rain perhaps breaking out there and into the Mid-Atlantic but major issues are not expected.

Along the West Coast, more rain and mountain snow - some heavy- may create some travel delays in northern California and Oregon Sunday which will shift into the northern and central Rockies Christmas Eve.

By  |  11:24 AM ET, 12/21/2012

Categories:  Latest, U.S. Weather

 
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