By Jennifer Gray, CNN Meteorologist
It is four days until Thanksgiving and if you’re like me, you’ve got your lists: Your grocery list, your Thanksgiving to-do list, your list of football games and World Cup matches to watch, and the list of 8 things you are NOT going to say around the Thanksgiving table. If you are one of the 54 million people set to travel for Thanksgiving this week, you will need a list of to-dos for travel as well.
Luckily, travel TO Thanksgiving looks to be for the most part worry-free weather-wise, but travel AFTER Thanksgiving might create some trouble, especially in the east.
And if you’re in western New York, you’re probably just hoping you can make it to the grocery store at some point after historic amounts of snow buried the area this weekend.
Monday through Wednesday
The biggest weather headache leading up to Thanksgiving will be in the Pacific Northwest, and I think it will have a bigger impact on those traveling by road versus air.
A cold front is expected to move into the Pacific Northwest Tuesday.
“This will mark the return to area wide precipitation,” the National Weather Service office in Seattle said. “Rain is expected to begin at the coast Tuesday morning and progress inland throughout the day.”
Rain is forecast for much of western Washington and Oregon, with snow for the Cascades.
“The transition from rain to snow at both Stevens and Snoqualmie Pass is expected to occur late morning to early afternoon on Tuesday,” the weather service added, warning motorists should check the conditions of the passes before beginning their journey.
Winds will also be gusting as high as 40 mph Tuesday night as the front passes.
Thanksgiving Day Forecast, including the Macy’s Parade
Thanksgiving Day looks tranquil for most of the country, except for portions of the South. Showers are likely to impact places like Dallas, Houston, Shreveport and Little Rock.
“Showers will continue into Thanksgiving morning; however, they should end from northwest to southeast as the cold front sweeps through the area, with the last of the rain exiting Central Texas by early to mid-afternoon,” the weather service in Dallas explained.
Showers will then push into northwestern Louisiana and Arkansas through the day. With highs only topping out in the 50s, a dreary day with cold rain will most likely prevail.
Temperatures for Thanksgiving will largely be in the 50s and 60s across much of the South, the Central Plains and even into the Mid-Atlantic.
The northern tier of the country will be in the 30s and 40s, along with portions of the Northeast.
In New York City, it should be a beautiful day! A chilly start with lows in the mid to upper 30s, then temperatures will rebound into the low 50s for the afternoon. We should see mostly sunny skies with winds around 5 to 10 mph — so those balloons should be able to fly high for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade!
Post-Thanksgiving travel woes
Things get messier after the turkey day festivities.
We are monitoring the development of a potential Nor’easter late-week and into the weekend as the system arriving Thanksgiving Day pushes eastward. This system is likely to strengthen and could cause some travel issues for return travelers, especially along the Eastern Seaboard.
The only caveat is there is A LOT of uncertainty in how the forecast will unfold later in the week. One weather service office describes the forecast as “clear as mud,” which I agree with, but we will take our best stab at it with the information we have as of today. Just keep in mind, this may change.
However, you might want to check back here later in the week as the forecast develops.
Rain will start ramping up across the South Thursday evening into Friday, with the heaviest rain across the Gulf Coast states.
By Friday, rain will put a damper on travelers and outdoor plans for millions across the East from Atlanta to Washington, DC and as far north as New York City.
Some forecast models are hinting it could even become a Nor’easter by Friday, which we talked about last week in the Weather Brief.
“Current forecasts continue to indicate that wintry precipitation is a better possibility for the Interior Northeast while the metropolitan areas along the I-95 corridor are more likely to get rain,” the Weather Prediction Center said.
“But stay tuned to future forecasts as these uncertain details like precipitation types in particular areas could change as model guidance eventually comes into better consensus with low tracks and temperatures,” forecasters added.
I believe there’s a decent chance we could see some pretty significant travel delays across the East Coast late-week and into the weekend. So be ready, especially if you are traveling by air.
If you are traveling by car, please check the forecast again before hitting the road, so you can find the safest window possible to travel.
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CNN Meteorologist Haley Brink contributed to this story.