Thanksgiving Travel Chaos Ahead: Stormy Weather Threatens Busiest Holiday Ever

  • Thanksgiving travel expected to be busiest ever with over 10 million already passing through TSA checkpoints, but stormy weather could disrupt plans for millions more.
  • FAA opening up extra airspace to accommodate increased air traffic along the East Coast.
  • Dangerous storms with tornado potential moving through the South, heavy rain, wind, and flight delays expected along the Gulf Coast and in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast.

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Airlines are preparing for what is expected to be the busiest Thanksgiving ever, but stormy weather could disrupt travel plans for millions of Americans. Over 10 million people have already passed through TSA checkpoints, surpassing pre-pandemic numbers from 2019. Wednesday alone is expected to see nearly 50,000 flights. To accommodate the increased air traffic, the Federal Aviation Administration is opening up extra airspace along the East Coast that is usually reserved for the military.

However, for travelers in the South, dangerous storms with the potential for tornadoes are moving through Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama on Monday night and Tuesday. The system may also bring golf ball-sized hail. As the storms progress through the Ohio Valley, they will bring heavy rain from Detroit to Nashville and along the Gulf Coast. The same system will then move eastward, impacting portions of the Mid-Atlantic and the Northeast just prior to Thanksgiving. Gusty wind and heavy rain are expected, with the worst of it occurring late Tuesday and early Wednesday.

The Northeast may see some snowfall in higher elevation areas, with 1-3 inches possible. However, most of the snow will be compacted and melted by the rain on Wednesday. Some localized flooding may occur in parts of Massachusetts, and flight delays and cancellations are likely on what is typically the busiest travel day of the year.

Amtrak’s high-speed Acela service between Boston, New York, and Washington, D.C., is anticipating a 25% increase in ridership. AAA expects over 49 million Americans to travel by car for Thanksgiving, influenced by gas prices that are 37 cents lower than last year. Most of the country will experience warm and dry weather on Thanksgiving day, except for parts of the Northern Plains and the Front Range, which may see some snow.

For the return journey, there is a chance of snow and sleet in the Northeast on Sunday. Overall, travelers should be aware of potential disruptions due to the stormy weather and plan accordingly.

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