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Fox News Weather Center

East on Alert for Storm to Threaten Thanksgiving Travel

East Coast travelers are being put on alert that the potential exists for a winter storm to unfold on Wednesday, the busiest travel day of the year.

The culprit for any headaches or nightmares for travelers trying to reach their Thanksgiving Day destinations will be a storm system set to ride up or parallel the East Coast at midweek.

How close the storm tracks will determine how expansive travel impacts will be.

The storm will initially be responsible for spreading steady rain and embedded thunderstorms across the Florida Peninsula Tuesday through Tuesday evening.

Tuesday night through the start of Thanksgiving, the storm will turn northward and impact the rest of the East Coast.

Slow travel, both on the ground and in the air, can be expected in the Southeast on Wednesday along the I-95 corridor, as well as in Jacksonville, Florida; Charleston, South Carolina; Raleigh, North Carolina; and Norfolk, Virginia.

Farther to the north, the storm's impacts on the mid-Atlantic and Northeast will depend on its exact track and intensity along the East Coast.

A weaker storm that remains far enough offshore would not draw in as much cold air, leading to a mainly rain event to spread up the mid-Atlantic and Northeast coasts Wednesday and Wednesday night.

The greatest potential for nuisance snow in this scenario would be north and west of I-95 in New England.

The best scenario for Thanksgiving travelers would be if the storm stays far enough offshore for rain to only graze the immediate coast.

A stronger storm and one that tracks closer to or hugs the coast would expand the heavy rain, along with the threat of downpours, water ponding on roadways and flight delays, across more of the mid-Atlantic and Northeast.

The storm in this scenario would be able to draw in more cold air, causing the northern and western edge of the rain to fall as, mix with or change to snow.

If the stronger storm scenario were to pan out, latest indications point toward the heaviest snow targeting New England with snow making an appearance in Virginia's I-81 corridor. Snow would even be possible in Washington, D.C., New York City and Boston in this solution.

"Depending on how quickly the storm strengthens, strong and gusty northeasterly winds are also a possibility, especially near the coast and across New England," added AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Ben Noll.

"This could lead to blowing and drifting of snow, with the most likely place for meaningful accumulations across interior New England."

Snow is the last thing travelers want to encounter as they head to their Thanksgiving Day destinations as hazardous travel and flight cancellations would result.

AAA projects that 46.3 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Thanksgiving weekend, the highest volume for the holiday since 2007 and a 4.2 percent increase over last year.

Anyone with travel plans along the East Coast should continue to check back with AccuWeather.com for the latest on which storm scenario will unfold and the resultant travel impacts.

As far as Thanksgiving Day itself, any threat for a storm will be diminishing with no interferences with the parades in Philadelphia and New York City expected.