Where weather could cause problems for Thanksgiving travel this year

Millions of people will soon take to trains, planes and automobiles as people make their annual Thanksgiving pilgrimage.

The 2023 Deloitte holiday survey found that 48% of Americans plan to travel over the holidays. That’s up from the 31% that traveled between Thanksgiving and mid-January last year.

Relatively quiet weather has dominated the U.S. over the past couple of weeks, but computer models are indicating a more active scenario could take hold just as Thanksgiving travel begins.

"Too soon to put any numbers on it, but just be aware that we might see a little bit of an active pattern," FOX Weather Meteorologist Jane Minar said.

People wait in line at a TSA security checkpoint at Orlando International Airport on Thanksgiving eve, November 25, 2020, in Orlando, Florida. (Credit: Paul Hennessy/NurPhoto via Getty Images / Getty Images)

Here are the broad strokes of the forecast leading up to one of the busiest travel periods of the year. Details of the forecast will become clearer as the travel period approaches.


Pre-Thanksgiving outlook: Coastal storm looms this weekend

The change in the pattern begins toward the end of the week when the jet stream begins to dip south. The FOX Forecast Center is monitoring the possibility of inclement weather on both sides of the country by the end of the week, including a growing chance of a coastal storm in the Northeast this weekend. 

The outlook for the western U.S. for the week of Nov. 12th to 18th. (Credit: FOX Weather)

Before then, a pair of weather disturbances drifting across the nation could mean a little snow across the northern tier of the country near the Canadian border, turning into a rainmaker across the Great Lakes by Friday. A second storm system could bring heavy rain across the immediate Gulf Coast and Florida late this week and into the weekend. 

(FOX Weather)

Those two systems begin to merge this weekend, with the low off Florida turning north and strengthening as it heads north just off the Eastern Seaboard toward the Northeast. Meanwhile, it will eventually meet up with the storm system and cold front sliding east through the Great Lakes.


(FOX Weather)

"The rain that we’ve been tracking this week across the Gulf Coast – that could be the originator of a big problem for the Northeast this weekend," FOX Weather Meteorologist Britta Merwin said.

As the two systems combine, we're looking at the potential for widespread rain, gusty winds and snow developing, the FOX Forecast Center warned. Depending on the low's track, some places along the coast could see a couple of inches of rain.

The storm will be mostly a rainmaker, though the higher mountains of northern New England could see a few inches of snow. Winds will be blustery, and the combination of rain and wind could snarl some air traffic at major Northeastern hubs.

"It’s all about placement and how close that low-pressure area gets to the coast," Merwin said. 

(FOX Weather)

Thanksgiving week outlook: More storms could snarl travel

The weather forecast gets no calmer for Thanksgiving week, as the FOX Forecast Center is watching the potential for multiple storms to impact the U.S. next week, bringing a wide range of impacts.

As the Northeast deals with one coastal storm Saturday and Sunday, another complex storm system will be moving into California and the Pacific Northwest on Sunday with heavy rain and mountain snow.

(FOX Weather)

On Monday, the northern branch of this system will attempt to dive south over most of the Rockies, leading to impactful snow that could cause issues on roads. It's unclear if that part of the system will fall apart or maintain its strength over the mountains. Either way, travel impacts will be possible.

"The problem is once that energy hops over the Rockies – what brews out of that?" Merwin said.

The southern branch, however, will end up over the Four Corners region by Monday. That system will strengthen over the southern Plains, leading to the threat of heavy rain.

Later in the week, another system will dive south out of Canada from Tuesday into Wednesday, bringing a blast of cold air along with it. This could lead to snow for most of the Great Lakes region, with some in the form of lake-effect snow.

(FOX Weather)


This system is then expected to swing into the Northeast just in time for Thanksgiving, threatening to bring rain and snow for the holiday. 

It's still too early to determine the exact impacts, so we'll continue monitoring each day. Meanwhile, it’s easy to keep tabs on the forecast for your Thanksgiving destination using the FOX Weather app. Just open the app and tap the Events tab to get started.

Find more updates on this story at FOXWeather.com.