Fox News Weather Center

East Coast Winter Storm to Snarl Thanksgiving Travel

A major winter storm will unfold across the East Coast on Wednesday, threatening to create a nightmare for the millions of Thanksgiving holiday travelers--even those elsewhere in the U.S.

The same storm bringing snow and ice to New Mexico and the southern Plains to close out the weekend is set to spread heavy rain across the South and I-95 corridor Tuesday through Wednesday.

The storm has already been blamed for the deaths of eight people across the Southwest since Thursday, according to the Associated Press.

Substantial snow will unfold from the spine of the Appalachians to the St. Lawrence Valley and far northern New England.

"The potential exists for a foot of snow to fall from Bradford, Pa., to Burlington, Vt.," stated Meteorologist Eric Wanenchak.

The timing of the impending winter storm could not come at a worst time with AAA projecting 43.4 million travelers during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

"The Wednesday before Thanksgiving will be the busiest single day of travel with 37 percent of travelers departing for trips Nov. 27," AAA stated in a press release.

Heavy Rain for I-95 Corridor Wednesday

Heavy rain set to inundate the South on Tuesday will spread across the Carolinas and up the Northeast's I-95 corridor late Tuesday through Wednesday to Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York City and Boston.

Even without snow in the forecast, Expert Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski stated, "[The rain] would be enough to slow travel on the highways and delay a number of flights."

Water ponding on roadways heightens the danger of vehicles hydroplaning when traveling at highway speeds, while downpours threaten to dramatically reduce visibility for motorists.

"Gusty winds would also factor in to delays along the coast," Sosnowski continued.

Worsening the situation is the fact that the rain will be heavy enough to trigger flash flooding in some communities. Coastal flooding is another concern along the Northeast coast.

Snow from the Appalachians to St. Lawrence Valley

Current indications put the corridor from the spine of the Appalachians to the St. Lawrence Valley and far northern New England at risk for travel-disrupting snow from this midweek winter storm.

The storm will likely be an all-snow event across northwestern Pennsylvania and western New York to west of Montreal, Canada.

The rest of the area will see a changeover from rain (which may initially start as some snow) to the snow. The timing of that changeover will range from late Tuesday night in the southern Appalachians to Wednesday night in the St. Lawrence Valley and far northern New England.

Snow amounts will be substantial enough to clog roads and create treacherous and slippery travel. As the storm strengthens on Wednesday, gusty winds will follow suit and whip the snow around--further reducing visibility for motorists.

In addition to Bradford and Burlington, the worst of the snowstorm may center on Syracuse, Montreal and stretches of Interstates 81, 86, 88, 87, 89 and 90.

East of the heaviest snow zone, there could be a changeover from rain to a few inches of snow and slick travel along the I-81 corridor from Virginia to Pennsylvania and northeastward to Albany, N.Y., and central Maine. meteorologists do not expect snow to reach the I-95 corridor.

Southern Rain, Thunderstorms, Wind

Rain and thunderstorms developing along the western Gulf Coast on Monday will spread eastward across the Deep South Monday night and to the Southeast and southern mid-Atlantic on Tuesday.

Travel delays on the I-10 and I-20 corridors are in store from Louisiana to Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and northern Florida from rain-soaked highways and poor visibility from downpours.

The soaking rain and low-hanging clouds could delay flights at New Orleans, Atlanta, Charlotte and other airports in the region for travelers heading to their Thanksgiving destinations early.

Across southern Georgia and Florida, there is concern for the thunderstorms to turn severe Tuesday through Tuesday night.

As the worst of the storm shifts to the Northeast, more travel problems may unfold in the South on Wednesday due to lingering rain, wind and gusty winds.

Rest of the Nation

Much of the rest of the nation will have good travel conditions.

Beware, aircraft and flight crews originating from the South and Northeast could be delayed, perhaps causing ripple-effect problems with a few flights throughout the nation.

There will be bands of lake-effect snow over the Upper Midwest, due to fresh cold air moving in Tuesday and Wednesday. The lake-effect snow will gradually wind down in many locations on Thanksgiving Day.

While odds favor the snow streaming over areas south to southeast of the lakes, there is some concern lake-effect snow will sneak into Chicago and cause issues at O'Hare International Airport on Wednesday. Expert Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski contributed to the content of this story.