From left, Nick Burton, Clancy Sloan and Graham Anderson rest while waiting for their flight at McCarran International Airport Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Forget about a white Christmas.
A band of high winds, thunderstorms and soaking rains from holiday storms are poised to derail travel plans for millions of Americans ready to celebrate Christmas.
“It’s going to be a rainmaker, for sure. There’s the threat of locally heavy rain and this system could be windy enough to disrupt travel at airports in the East,” Roy Lucksinger, lead meteorologist at The Weather Channel, told NBC News.
Aviation forecasters at the National Weather Service are reporting that a “high impact event” has the potential to cause major flight delays in New York City airports on Wednesday, Christmas Eve, due to heavy rain and wind gusts.
“We worry about any kind of weather when it comes to holiday travel,” Weather Prediction Center meteorologist Brian Hurley said, USA Today reported. “A lot of airports will be affected. It doesn’t look like we will have significant snow, but with the rain and wind, delays are imminent.”
“Especially on Christmas Eve, the rain is going to be heavy enough, and there is going to be wind, so I’d think there will be some delays and a slower go than usual on the interstates,” AccuWeather senior meteorologist Dan Pydynowski told the paper. “Certainly not the ideal travel day.”
“It’s going to be a rainmaker.”
– Roy Lucksinger, lead meteorologist, The Weather Channel
The airports in Charlotte, Atlanta, and the major Florida hubs may also be affected, due to high wind, heavy rain, thunderstorms, and low clouds. And wind, rain and thunderstorms may cause delays as far west as Cincinnati and Detroit, with further delays from snow and/or wind possible in Chicago, Milwaukee, and possibly St. Louis, according to weather.com.
Those hoping the storm will bring them a white Christmas are likely out of luck, except in Wisconsin and northern Michigan, Hurley said.
On Christmas Day, flurries may creep into parts of the eastern Great Lakes and the mountains of West Virginia. New England may see morning rain change to light snow, but high winds will be felt in the rest of the Northeast.
According to the National Weather Service, a north-south cold front is expected to stretch from the Great Lakes to the Gulf Coast on Tuesday, with snow falling in the upper Midwest and Plains. But the snow will be accompanied by strong northwest winds, as rain and thunderstorms will roll across the Lower Mississippi Valley, Gulf Coast and Southeast, including north Florida, weather.com reports.
AAA is expecting 98.6 million Americans to travel 50 miles or more from home during the year-end holiday season, an increase of 4 percent from last year.
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