Christmas Travel: Winter Storm Warnings in Northeast brings White Christmas and slick travel

National Weather Service weather map for Friday, December 22nd

By Kami Klein

Christmas is the most traveled part of the year with an estimated 107.3 million travelers nationwide from December 23rd to January 1st according to the American Automobile Association. Weather conditions play a major role in getting your family where you want to be.  This Christmas weekend getting to Grandma’s house will have some challenges with a winter storm system blowing across the United States bringing a variety of weather conditions.

If you are headed anywhere in the Northeast be prepared for delays from snow and ice which will make road travel difficult and most likely cause some flight delays.  On the plus side it’s perfect weather for Santa’s sleigh!

Winter storm warnings have been posted for parts of upstate New York and northern New England.  For the rest of New England, northern Pennsylvania, New York State and much of lower Michigan, a winter weather advisory has been issued.  

Heavy rainfall and flooding in the lower Mississippi and Tennessee valleys will last into early Saturday while,low humidity and offshore winds will continue to result in elevated-to-critical fire weather conditions across southern California through at least Monday. Dry air continues to be dominant in California.  

In the Central states, lingering snow may occur from the upper Mississippi Valley into the Great Lakes. Rain and thunderstorms will be possible for the middle/lower Mississippi Valley to central Texas with some freezing drizzle/freezing rain that may occur in parts of Oklahoma.  

The West will see a new weather system arriving that will bring snow and gusty winds to the northern Rockies and Northwest which will make poor driving conditions in some areas.  Rain showers will be possible along the Interstate 5 corridor from Seattle to Portland, Oregon.  

Flight delays will be possible for the following airports for Pre-Christmas travel:  

Atlanta, Cincinnati, Boston, Memphis, Nashville, Oklahoma City, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston,  St. Louis.  Portland and Seattle. New York, Philadelphia, Washington D.C. and Denver will be most affected by weather delays on Saturday evening into Sunday.  Chicago O’Hare, Cleveland and Detroit  will be on the lookout for flight delays all day on Sunday (Christmas Eve)  

Be sure to stay tuned to your local weather stations for current weather conditions, be patient and have a safe and wonderful Christmas!  


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U.S. carriers see 3.5 percent bump in 2016 winter holiday flying

By Alana Wise

(Reuters) – More than 45 million passengers will take to the skies on U.S. airlines this holiday season, Airlines for America projected on Thursday, up 3.5 percent from holiday travel last year.

During the 21-day stretch from Dec. 16 through Jan. 5, between 1.8 million and 2.4 million passengers daily will fly globally aboard U.S. carriers, according to the Washington-based trade group.

“An improving economy and reduced airfares remain the driving force behind the growth seen in air travel,” Airlines for America Chief Economist John Heimlich said in a statement.

“As we saw over Thanksgiving, U.S. airlines are well positioned to handle the increase in passengers expected this holiday season,” he added.

U.S. carriers got a trial run at the upcoming travel rush during the 12 days of Thanksgiving travel, the trade group said.

During Thanksgiving travel, airlines had a completion factor of 99.4 percent, a percentage of flights an airline completes without cancellation, and an on-time arrival rate of 84.5 percent, the industry body said.

Airlines for America said it expects the most congested travel days to fall on Dec. 22 and Dec. 23, while fewer travelers are expected on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

(Reporting by Alana Wise; Additional reporting by Jeffrey Dastin; Editing by Alan Crosby)

Messy Weather Disrupting Holiday Travel Plans

Severe weather was impacting the holiday travel plans of many Americans on Thursday morning, and threatening to impact more.

The remnants of the storm system that produced Wednesday’s deadly tornado outbreak were moving across the southeastern United States on Thursday. The National Weather Service said the system had weakened considerably, but it was still capable of producing heavy rainfall and localized severe thunderstorms throughout the Mid-Atlantic and Gulf Coast. The storms were expected to be the worst in Alabama and Georgia, but rain was falling as far north as New Jersey.

According to flight monitoring website, 201 flights to or from United States destinations were cancelled as of 11:45 a.m. EST on Thursday morning. Another 1,720 were delayed. Both of those numbers had steadily risen throughout the morning.

A large percentage of the delays were the result of heavy storms at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, the world’s busiest airport in terms of passenger traffic. FlightAware indicated 111 flights to or from the airport had been cancelled, and another 703 were delayed.

More Americans than ever before are expected to travel this Christmas season. AAA projects that 100.5 million Americans were expected to make a journey of at least 50 miles in the 12-day period that began Wednesday morning. More than 90 percent of people were expected to drive to their destinations, but 5.8 million were expected to fly. That’s an increase of .7 percent over last year, AAA reported.

Regardless of whether they were traveling or not, there’s a good chance Americans would experience record temperatures on Christmas. The National Climate Data Center reported that there have been 3,912 record daily high temperatures this month, and that trend was expected to continue Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

The Weather Channel reported temperatures in New York City reached 70 degrees early Christmas Eve morning, smashing the previous record of 63 degrees. The forecast was calling for a high of 64 degrees on Christmas, which would tie a 33-year-old record.

Still, some Western parts of the country were expected to see a White Christmas as Winter Storm Goliath arrived Thursday and continued to dump snow throughout Christmas and well into next week.

The National Weather Service had issued winter storm warnings in northern and central California, southeastern Oregon, northern Idaho, eastern Utah and western Colorado. The service had also issued winter weather advisories in parts of those states, as well as Washington, Arizona, Montana and Nevada. The service was also warning of the possibility of avalanches in Idaho, Utah and Colorado.

The Weather Channel reported that the storm could bring more than a foot of snow to higher elevations by Saturday night, though most of the affected areas are expected to see fewer than five inches. However, the channel’s meteorologists say the storm may intensify over the weekend, and early projections show that Goliath could dump up to a foot of snow over the Great Plains before next Tuesday.