By Judson Jones, CNN meteorologist
Vacation travel was curtailed by the pandemic last year, but this time around it should look more like the status quo – with crowded airports, stations and highways turned into parking lots or unofficial road races.
And while the weather won’t stop the masses from traveling this year, a potentially large storm system in the East could put a damper on Thanksgiving travel plans for many.
“The potential continues for a strong cold front and major storm to hit the east early next week,” the Weather Prediction Center said Wednesday morning.
Meteorologists still have plenty of reasons to bet on next week’s potential storm. Many atmospheric technical ingredients must align for this storm to have disastrous effects on vacation travel. Usually, meteorologists don’t like to predict a storm with so many variables so far in advance because a lot is subject to change.
Some of the forecasting computer models have shown this potential storm for more than 48 hours. With this consistency in the overall model, there is some increased confidence that there will be some impact from strong winds, rain, or maybe even snow from Chicago to New York.
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“This storm remains an important weather target due to its timing just before Thanksgiving, but it will likely take some time to resolve the details,” the WPC said.
It is very true. The storm will have much worse impacts on major cities on the east coast if and when a separate secondary storm center forms off the east coast from Monday to Tuesday.
“Lots of uncertainties in the forecast for Sunday evening and early next week, so the forecast has low confidence, especially in the exact amounts of precipitation, winds and timing of winds and more precipitation. high, “New York’s National Weather Service said Wednesday. .
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These far best forecasts show that as of Monday, the most likely evolution of this system would lead to an increased threat of precipitation for New England, ahead of cold front development / weak secondary development, according to the WPC.
The best snow potential would probably come from lake effect snow over the Great Lakes and along the Appalachians from the Carolinas to the northeast.
“There is still enough uncertainty in the evolution of the system to allow further possibilities regarding the types and amounts of precipitation,” said the WPC.
Confidence is higher about the possibility of strong winds sweeping the plains to the east behind the storm. These winds can be just as disruptive to travel as any precipitation.
“By Monday and Tuesday, the eastern half of the country will be in a very deep trough. This means the jet stream will look like a giant U just over the Great Lakes to the northeast, ”CNN meteorologist Chad Myers said.
“Models predict that the wind speed inside the jet stream will exceed 190 mph in places. Pilots will look for the softest air to fly, but many passengers will certainly hear, “Ladies and gentlemen, please keep your seat belts securely fastened.” “
What is most certain about this system is that temperatures will be much colder after it passes the Great Lakes to the northeast and south.
Plunging cold temperatures are certain
Temperatures in the east will change as will the emotions at a family Thanksgiving dinner over the next week.
One day it will be hot, then the next abnormally cold, then abnormally hot and still cold.
The first mass of colder air will infiltrate the east over the next few days and into the weekend. Temperatures will be about 10 to 15 degrees below normal for this time of year and will return to average by Sunday.
“The next wave of cooler air will extend over the eastern half of the lower 48 Monday through Tuesday with the widest coverage of highs 10-15F below normal expected Tuesday,” the WPC said.
Chances are, most Easterners will experience below average temperatures during Thanksgiving week.
For example, New York will likely be just above freezing for anyone who might venture to watch a parade. When the quintessential Thanksgiving touch football game takes place in the park, it will likely only peak at just over 50 degrees.
A boost of cold air arrives at the end of the week to keep much of the East below normal over the weekend after Thanksgiving.
The only other thing that is certain is that the closer we get to the storm, the more reliable the forecast will be. That and that turkey will be served nationwide next week.
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CNN meteorologist Monica Garrett contributed to this forecast