A massive snowstorm is expected to hit some of the country’s busiest travel destinations on Christmas Eve and Christmas day, potentially wrecking the holidays for millions of Americans.
Accuweather is now predicting that ‘significant’ snow will fall in the midwest before barreling along the East Coast.
The timing couldn’t be worse as 87 million people are headed out of town for the holidays, the vast majority of whom will be driving to their destinations.
The damaging snow is supposed to start in the Rockie Mountains, gaining steam as it heads along the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles in the late afternoon to early evening of Tuesday.
From there, it will head up towards the Great Lakes and move eastward throughout Wednesday. Once it reaches the East Coast, it will begin in the Washington, D.C. area before moving up towards the southern parts of the Northeast, potentially reaching New York, Connecticut, New Hampshire and possibly Massachusetts.
Powerful winds and snow whipped parts of the eastern United States on Saturday, carrying the promise of a white Christmas while threatening to cause havoc for the many Americans traveling for the holidays.
The storm moving in from the Midwest was sending strong winds into the mid-Atlantic states and southern New England and buried parts of Iowa, Nebraska and Wisconsin in more than a foot of snow earlier this week. Several inches of snow fell on Saturday in parts of western Pennsylvania.
By 4.30pm EST on Saturday, the winter storm dubbed ‘Draco’ had delayed 5,843 flights in the United States and canceled 131, leaving desperate holiday travellers scrambling to find alternative routes home. The high winds could threaten to delay even more flights at airports in New York, Philadelphia and Washington, meteorologists said.
Newark airport had the most cancellations, with 11 flights called off and O’Hare International Airport in Chicago still had the greatest number of delays, with 239 flights taking off later than scheduled.
More than 87 million Americans are expected to travel 50 miles or more away from home over the holidays, the travel and auto groups AAA has forecast. Nearly nine out of 10 will be on the roads, it said.
On Saturday, high winds and gusts were predicted in the New York City metropolitan area, eastern Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey, the National Weather Service said as it issued winter storm warnings in many of those areas as well as parts of Northern California and Oregon.
The service urged people to be careful of snow covered road and very poor visibility that would make driving hazardous.
It predicted dangerous conditions due to winds for upstate New York, northwestern Connecticut, southern Vermont and western Massachusetts.
A new storm could bring snow to the central Appalachians, northern mid-Atlantic and southern New England on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, Accuweather.com said.