Turkey Travel Trouble

I’m not sure why it is Thanksgiving that puts more people on the road or in the air than any other holiday. Perhaps Christmas is a bit too wintry to risk the air travel, or because we just can’t turn down a good meal. Maybe it’s because we know that it will always fall on a Thursday, and it’s a good excuse to take an entire week off. For one reason or another, Thanksgiving week is one  in which we need to keep a close eye on the weather.

As we noted yesterday when we looked at the satellite loop, there isn’t much to talk about when looking at the center of the country, thanks to a vast ridge of high pressure that is going to protect the Plains from any significant issues over the holiday week. There are a trio of weather trouble spots to consider though, just in case you need the head’s up.

West Coast
While the rest of the country would likely lament being battered by a rainy, snowy combo platter as they try to get to grandmother’s house on Thanksgiving,  the west coast, and Northern California in particular, will savor what should be a very rainy week.

An area of low pressure over the Gulf of Alaska will provide successive waves of rain to the western, particularly northwestern, United States. Mountain snows are possible, but scattered showers will start on Wednesday morning, with a more bracing cold front slamming into the region Thanksgiving morning. Moderate rain will spread as far south as San Francisco Bay, and will be heavy at times from northern California to Washington State, with lighter rain reaching the Mexican border.

Chico, California, the nearest city with extractable data from forecast models to the deadly Camp Fire in Northern California is expected to see anywhere from 1 – 3” of rain through the end of the week, which will douse the wildfire if not completely, then enough to finally get the inferno under control. All of this rain will also help in clearing the air of smoke for places not directly affected by the flames themselves. The rain will continue through the weekend in some parts of the interior west, before the storm shifts into the central Plains.

Great Lakes/New England 
There is a vast area of low pressure spiraling over the Canadian Maritimes, inducing a brisk westerly flow over the Lakes. Presently, there is a steady plume of Lake Effect snow in western New York and northern Michigan. An embedded impulse in the heavy snow showers around the Lakes will swing into northern New England in the afternoon on Wednesday. Fortunately, the return trip for New Englanders will not be snowy on Turkey Day, as the flurries will shift out of town by Thursday afternoon.

Gulf Coast
That big area of low pressure in eastern Canada is wrapping a boundary across Florida into the Gulf of Mexico. A disturbance at the tail of that boundary is going to get a little bit stronger in the western Gulf of Mexico. It’s not going to be tropical or anything wild like that, but a few showers will build into the western Gulf Coast, first over Texas on Wednesday morning, building east to the Mississippi Delta by Thanksgiving morning.

And that’s it. Those are the three spots to be concerned about through Thanksgiving. I should note that a rapidly eveloping feature over the Plains and southeastern US will mean next weekend will be considerably more challenging for travelers, particularly with thunderstorms into the southeast, and snow in the Great Lakes. 

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!