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Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Post-Thanksgiving travel can be hampered by severe weather across the country

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Heavy rain and strong winds are expected this weekend in the southern Great Plains, from Texas to Mississippi, where it’s already raining, threatening travel plans after Thanksgiving, according to the National Weather Service.

A deep low on the top floor will continue to bring rain to the region and slowly shift to the Central Plains on Saturday, affecting major cities such as Dallas, Oklahoma City, New Orleans and Memphis, Tennessee.

Nearly 55 million people were expected to travel 50 miles or more from their homes this Thanksgiving weekend — 98% of pre-pandemic levels, according to AAA.

There are wind advisories for about 9 million people in the Southeast, including New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Birmingham, Huntsville, and Asheville, Alabama. These warnings are in effect Saturday night through Sunday morning, as wind gusts of up to 40 mph are possible.

By Sunday morning, rain will shift to the southeast, mid-Atlantic and Great Lakes region, which could affect morning travel to cities such as Chicago, St. Louis, Detroit, Indianapolis, Cleveland, Atlanta, Washington, DC, Charlotte, North Carolina and Nashville, Tennessee.

This wall of rain will finally arrive in the northeast by Sunday afternoon, hitting New York, Philadelphia and Boston. The heaviest downpours should end between 4 and 6 p.m., with rain ceasing by late evening.

While the risk of severe weather is very low on Sunday, there is a chance of strong winds and frequent lightning that could affect travel, especially in the northeast.

Another developing storm system will bring heavy rain to the Pacific Northwest in addition to mountain snow this weekend, according to the weather service.

Winter weather warnings are in place for parts of the Cascades and Northern Rockies, including northern Idaho, Montana and southeastern Wyoming.

High wind watch warnings are also in effect for this region through Sunday, with wind gusts of up to 50 to 70 mph possible. This creates dangerous travel conditions, especially in the higher areas and passes.

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