Rain and freezing rain were in the forecast for parts of the Mid-Atlantic and New England Thursday, as travelers continued to make their way to friends and family for Thanksgiving Day.
Strong wind and rain plagued New York City early Thursday, causing officials to debate whether to fly the trademark big balloons of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Parade fans awaited news all morning on whether the massive balloons that traditionally fly high above the procession on the street would be grounded.
Parade-goers donned rain slickers and held umbrellas to shield themselves from the rain all morning, as New York City police closed off streets, barricading onlookers into designated areas for the big event.
But in the end, the balloons flew above the parade, albeit a little lower than usual.
Across the country, airports reported delays as traffic jams clogged major thoroughfares for the holiday weekend.
Rain was to hit coastal areas along the East Coast, while freezing rain was possible in higher elevations of Pennsylvania and New York. Forecasters are predicting as much as two inches in some spots of Rhode Island before it lets up later Thursday evening; winds could gust more than 30 miles per hour. The rain canceled some high-school football games.
A wet Thanksgiving also was expected in many areas of the Northwest. Snow was expected in parts of Washington, Oregon, western Montana and Wyoming. But dry weather was forecast from the Plains to the Mississippi Valley, while mostly sunny skies were anticipated in the Southwest.
Although rain was tapering off across New Jersey, flood warnings remained in effect for large sections of the Jersey shore. The National Weather Service issued a flood warning for central and southern coastal areas until 4 p.m. Thursday.
A flatbed truck jackknifed, spilling 55-gallon drums of acetone and rubbing alcohol and shutting down one side of one of Southern California's busiest freeways near Los Angeles International Airport.
On Wednesday, long lines formed at airports well before daybreak, and some drivers in the South saw winter hit the roads early as millions of Americans made the annual dash home for Thanksgiving.
The AAA estimated that 38.3 million people would travel 50 miles or more for Thanksgiving — up a million from last year.
Moderating gas prices may be one reason for the increase, said the automobile association's Robert Sinclair.
Since peaking above $3 per gallon in early August, gasoline pump prices have dropped by around 80 cents per gallon nationwide in the past three months. Wednesday's nationwide average gas price was $2.23 a gallon, according to AAA.
Thanksgiving air travel was expected to surge, too. AAA predicted 4.8 million travelers will fly to their Thanksgiving destination. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey anticipated 1.6 million passengers — about 2 percent more than last year — would pass through LaGuardia, John F. Kennedy International and Newark Liberty International airports.
At LaGuardia, arrivals were delayed about two hours Wednesday, and departures about an hour and a half, said Steve Coleman, Port Authority spokesman. Kennedy Airport had 30-minute delays on arrivals and departures, while Newark Liberty International Airport had an average hour-long delay on arrivals.
Traffic was moving smoothly at several other major airports, including the world's busiest, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
"I expected it to be a lot worse than it is, but the day is still young," said Steve Miller as he waited for relatives arriving from Fort Myers, Fla.
At Boston's Logan International Airport, wait times at security checkpoints were averaging less than 10 minutes and there were no long lines at ticket counters at midday.
Drivers in parts of North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia faced high winds and flooded roads Wednesday as an early winter storm swept across the South.
The weather slowed traffic between the Carolinas on Interstate 95, one of the main arteries for East Coast travel. Some ferry service along North Carolina's coast was halted on Wednesday due to the storm; the state Department of Transportation said it would likely not resume until Thanksgiving Day.
State police said James Michael Smook, 53, of New Kent County, Md., was killed shortly before noon Wednesday on Interstate 64 in York County when his car hydroplaned on a patch of water, spun off the road and hit a tree.
In the Richmond, Va., area, state police responded to 92 car accidents between midnight and 6 p.m. on Wednesday. Nine of those accidents resulted in injuries and most took place on Interstates 64, 95 and 85, said Sgt. Kevin Barrick.
Also in Virginia, a tunnel between Norfolk and Portsmouth was shut down because of high water, and high winds prompted operators of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel to limit vehicles crossing the span to cars and pickup trucks.
Motorists along Interstate 40, an east-west highway that spans more than 2,500 miles, were seeing more than just fall colors along the route: State troopers will be posted every 10 miles.
The coordinated effort between state police in the eight states the highway passes through — California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee and North Carolina — is aimed at reducing accidents and fatalities Wednesday and Thursday.
One of Southern California's busiest freeways was shut down on one side for hours when a flatbed truck carrying hazardous materials jackknifed, spilling 55-gallon drums of acetone and rubbing alcohol.
Southbound traffic on Interstate 405 in Hawthorne became so backed up some drivers were directed to travel in the wrong direction to the nearest exit to help ease the gridlock. The truck's driver and another motorist were hospitalized with minor injuries, the Los Angeles County Fire Department reported.
In New York, scores of people packed the train waiting area at Pennsylvania Station by noon, including Sandra Clifton. Her flight last year to Pittsburgh took so long — 27 hours thanks to flight cancellations and delays — that this year she was taking the train to see different relatives outside Philadelphia.
"It broke my mother's heart," said Clifton, 39. "I love my family. I just can't always get to them."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.