Thanksgiving Travel Weather Ain’t No Turkey; Different Story Next Week

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As I sat stationary in traffic on my way to work this morning listening to the traffic reporter talk about how “light” the traffic was around Houston because of the holiday, I couldn’t help but wonder why those people all around me weren’t on vacation. After all, the weather looks pretty good for most places, so why aren’t they someplace else?

Actually, around the country the weather is pretty good and should remain so for most places through the weekend. The upper flow is driving a couple of strong cold fronts pretty quickly from west to east, and it will come as no surprise that the northern half of the U.S. should be on the receiving end of some chilly, wintry weather. Also, no surprise that those of us down south will be enjoying pleasant temperatures on Turkey Day. However, there are some changes brewing.

With high pressure dominating so much of the country on Thanksgiving Day, there will be a lot of backyard football being played from the Mid-Atlantic, to the Deep South to the West Coast. Even my extended family in New England should enjoy sunshine and temperatures much warmer than normal. Not so in Houston, as the 9-1 Texans will be playing at 11:30 CST so most of us in Texas will be inside. Those in the Pacific Northwest and the northern Plains will also be spending a lot of Thanksgiving Day inside. Image: ImpactWeather’s StormWatch

Long-range weather data continues to favor a major pattern change next week as the upper flow slows down allowing much colder Canadian air to surge southward over the Lower 48. We expect the initial thrust of much-colder air to dive southward across the Central and Northern Plains this weekend, then slowly east and south across Texas, the Midwest and Great Lakes early next week behind a departing storm system over south-central Canada. The main concern sets up by Tuesday or Wednesday next week as the cold Canadian air interacts with a developing area of low pressure over the Central Rockies.

The combination of this system, along with the much colder air will likely set the stage for a potentially major winter storm with blizzard/near-blizzard conditions effecting areas from the Central Rockies to the Great Lakes on Wednesday or Thursday. Behind this weather system, much colder air will plunge southward across Texas and the Lower Mississippi Valley bringing a risk of freezing early morning temperatures across inland areas. Even though our confidence remains on the low side in regards to the exact timing, duration and intensity of the upcoming weather change, long-range data is definitely hinting toward some potentially severe wither weather next week over parts of the Lower 48. Welcome to December!

For now I’ll just have to wait and see, but I’m hoping traffic improves tomorrow. It’s the busiest travel day of the year tomorrow, after all, but I’m hoping all the congestion is at the airports. My mom and dad will be driving in from Virginia and I’d like for them to not have to deal with what I have to contend with every day. But even if the traffic snarls, the weather should be fine.

I hope so, because I told them to leave their winter coats at home.

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