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Thanksgiving Travel Forecast: Midweek Storms Could Mean Headaches For Holiday Plans

Topline
Inclement weather across much of the U.S. could impact Thanksgiving travel plans this week, according to the National Weather Service, as more than 55 million Americans are expected to be traveling for the holiday.
More than 55 million Americans are expected to travel for Thanksgiving—the most since before the … [+] start of the Covid pandemic. Getty Images
Key Facts
Thunderstorms are expected to begin throughout the Northeast starting late Tuesday and continue through Wednesday morning, according to AccuWeather. There is a “large degree of uncertainty” surrounding severe weather in New Jersey that could affect “busy travel days before Thanksgiving,” including possible heavy rain, strong winds and street flooding, the National Weather Service said. Winds up to 50 miles per hour are expected in the areas around the Great Lakes, Ohio Valley and the Northeast on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, according to AccuWeather, which warned of additional storms along the Atlantic coast bringing rain and heavy winds before Thanksgiving. Rain is projected to start Monday and continue through Tuesday across several cities in the South, including Atlanta, Little Rock, Louisville and Memphis, the National Weather Service said, in addition to possible “damaging winds and a brief tornado” in the Birmingham, Alabama, area. Paul Pastelok, a meteorologist for AccuWeather, told the New York Times that low clouds and rain on the California coast could cause some travel delays, while a cold front moving east toward Houston and Chicago will also likely impact airports. A significant lake-effect snow event—increased rates of snowfall caused by cold air passing over large bodies of water—is projected to begin in Buffalo, New York, on Wednesday and continue through Thanksgiving Day, according to the National Weather Service, which noted the event could impact areas east and northeast of the city.
Contra
New York City’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is not expected to be impacted by severe weather, Pastelok told the Times, with a forecast of little wind and mostly sunny weather. Mostly dry weather is also forecast for many other portions of the U.S., according to the National Weather Service, with temperatures up to the low 70s on the West Coast.
Big Number
55.4 million. That’s how many Americans are expected to travel during Thanksgiving week, according to AAA’s estimates. About 49.1 million Americans are expected to be driving to their destinations. This is a 2.3% increase over last year (54.1 million) and the third-highest Thanksgiving week forecast by AAA since 2000, trailing 2005 and 2019.
Surprising Fact
Gas prices are expected to fall to their lowest point since February during Thanksgiving week, according to GasBuddy. The average gas price nationwide is projected to drop to $3.25 per gallon, including 12 states with average prices below $3.
Tangent
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said earlier this week that the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday is expected to be among the busiest travel seasons ever. The TSA expects to screen 30 million passengers between Nov. 17 and Nov. 28, including 2.7 million passengers the day before Thanksgiving. Amtrak is expecting about 750,000 passengers from Nov. 19 through Nov. 26, a company spokesperson told the Times, an increase of 2% over the previous year.
Further Reading
Thanksgiving Week Storm Could Stymie Travel In Eastern U.S. (Washington Post)
This Thanksgiving, Full Planes Go With Full Plates (New York Times)

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