AccuWeather reports a storm bearing strong winds, heavy snow, torrential rain, thunderstorms and fog will converge on the Northeast and Midwest on Christmas Eve and will likely create major travel delays, both on the roads and at airports.
The early stages of travel problems from patchy rain and fog will develop on Tuesday. The most widespread travel disruptions and the worst weather conditions in terms of windswept rain and travel-impairing snow will be centered on Christmas Eve.
Fog, Low Clouds to Reduce Visibility in Great Lakes and East
As warmer air surges northward with the rain, the risk of travel delays due to fog will increase.
According to AccuWeather Chief Meteorologist Elliot Abrams, “Areas and episodes of fog can be a problem for travelers in the Midwest and Northeast spanning Tuesday into Wednesday night.”
Low ceilings and fog could lead to flight delays at times from Detroit and Pittsburgh to Philadelphia, New York City and Boston.
Drenching Rain to Raise Flooding Risk in Northeast
For many people traveling by ground and air, rain will be an inconvenience. However, enough rain can fall at times to cause poor visibility and increase the risk of hydroplaning for those traveling at highway speeds.
Excess water on the roads will reduce the braking action and increase the distance required between vehicles in an emergency situation.
Heavy rainfall in the South and Midwest will tend to be spotty, but as the storm moves northward on Christmas Eve, heavy rain will become widespread progressing through the mid-Atlantic and New England.
According to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Henry Margusity, “We are concerned about rapidly melting snow, combined with heavy rain leading to a stream and river flooding situation in northern New England.”
Strong Winds Could be a Snag for Airline Passengers
One of the most common causes of flight delays is strong winds, especially where they blow perpendicular to runways.
The strongest winds are likely in New England Wednesday into Wednesday night, when gusts could reach 60 mph along the coast and over mountains across the interior. Gusts could approach 50 mph around New York City Wednesday intoWednesday evening.
Increasing winds from the west and northwest may cause similar problems throughout the Midwest and mid-Atlantic on Christmas Day.
Turbulence during and in the wake of the storm could be a problem on some flights.
Thunderstorms May Affect the Atlantic Seaboard
The storm system may become strong enough to produce thunderstorms from Florida to Maine.
“The greatest risk of severe thunderstorms is from the eastern part of the Carolinas to Delmarva,” Margusity said.
Snow to Create Hazardous Travel in Midwest, Appalachians and Ohio Valley
While much of the South, mid-Atlantic and New England will be spared travel problems from snow with this storm, significant travel delays and dangers will develop in the Midwest and perhaps the Appalachians from Christmas Eve through Christmas Day.
The greatest risk of an all-out snowstorm is over northern Michigan and central Ontario.
It is during the transition to colder air following rain, when the greatest dangers for travelers may develop farther south.
While not a huge amount of snow is forecast for the Ohio Valley states, the lower Great Lakes and central Appalachians with the storm itself, snow showers or a quick burst of snow could lead to a rapid covering of snow on the highways.
From parts of Illinois, Kentucky and lower Michigan, eastward to western Pennsylvania, western New York and West Virginia, motorists should be prepared for rapidly changing weather conditions on Christmas Eve. This could occur during the day over the Midwest and toward evening around the central Appalachians as temperatures fall.
Check AccuWeather MinuteCast® for your location before heading out on the roads. It will show you the start and stop times of precipitation over the next two hours, and it will show you when rain will change over to snow.
There is the potential for a foot or more of snow, where the bands of lake-effect persist in northern Indiana, southwestern and northern Michigan, northern Wisconsin, northeastern Ohio, northwestern Pennsylvania and western and northern New York state.
By Alex Sosnowski, Senior Meteorologist for AccuWeather.com