The Bureau of Transportation Statistics reports during the five days around Thanksgiving, typically about 10.8 million trips are taken each day, nearly double the daily average (the rest of the year). So for air, rail, and road travel, inclement weather can create major headaches.
While Thanksgiving is more than a week away and forecast details are a bit foggy, we can offer a general glimpse of the overall weather pattern and highlight where storminess may impact your plans Monday through Friday next week. The really good news, at this point, is that the weather looks to be generally tranquil with storminess mainly confined to the northwest and southeast portions of the nation.
Beginning next Monday and continuing until the weekend, sprawling high pressure is likely to occupy a good part of the center part of the country. That means fair weather in major cities sometimes concerned about storminess this time of year like Denver, Minneapolis and Chicago.
Typically big storms around Thanksgiving occur when an early season outbreak of Arctic air plunges south and interacts with warm, humid air over the south and central states. But as Dr. Greg Postel wrote yesterday, Arctic air will be bottled up in Alaska and northern Canada , limiting the potential of any disturbances that might develop into a significant storm.
NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center predicts large parts of the country will have above normal temperatures in its latest 6-10 day outlook.
One storm system may cut across the south central states into the Southeast early in the week, potentially fueling some showers and storms - a few severe - in the mid-Mississippi to Tennessee valleys Tuesday. It’s then forecast to move towards the Southeast and southern mid-Atlantic Wednesday. So if you’re traveling through Dallas, Little Rock and Memphis on Tuesday, you may experience some travel delays, which could reach Atlanta and Raleigh on Wednesday.
But this storm system should not be as intense as the one that has generated severe weather in that same region this week. And it will probably weaken as it heads east. Severe weather, if it develops, would impact more areas Tuesday than Wednesday (the peak travel day).
There’s an outside chance the system redevelops into a coastal system and generates rain in the central and northern mid-Atlantic and Northeast Wednesday into Thursday, but chances are better it’s dry, especially as you go north and northwest towards interior New England. For now, the chances of major weather concerns for Richmond, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City and Boston seem low but stay tuned to the forecast.
By far the stormiest part of the country will be the Pacific Northwest throughout the week, where a series of storm systems will bring rain, wind and mountain snow. That part of the country is used to such weather, but be aware if your travel plans take you through places like Seattle and Portland.
(Note this preliminary outlook generally covers the period of next Monday through Friday. The weekend following Thanksgiving may see storminess return to the central part of the country. We’ll have more on that in forthcoming updates.)