Americans scrambled to get home after a stretch of bad weather helped force thousands of flight delays over the Thanksgiving weekend, and storms forecast for Tuesday threatened more travel chaos.
More than 2,200 flights within, into or out of the United States were delayed or canceled Monday afternoon — this after nearly 7,000 flights were delayed Sunday, one of the busiest travel days of the year, according to tracking website flightaware.com.
Travel is back in a big way after the crushing effects of COVID-19. AAA estimated that 54.6 million people traveled 50 miles or more from home during the Thanksgiving weekend. This is an increase of 1[ads1].5% compared to 2021 – and 98% of pre-pandemic levels.
This year was projected to be the third busiest for Thanksgiving travel since AAA began tracking in 2000. But heavy rain and thunderstorms in the South and snow in the Pacific Northwest contributed to some post-Thanksgiving travel problems. And the dangerous weather is far from over.
30 million at risk of severe weather
A storm rolling out of the Rockies was predicted to bring severe weather from strong winds to tornadoes from Illinois and Indiana to Texas. AccuWeather meteorologists warned that about 30 million people in the south-central United States will be at risk of severe thunderstorms on Tuesday alone. Wind gusts from the storms will often reach 60 to 70 mph, and 85 mph is possible, AccuWeather said.
“We’re pretty confident there will be more tornadoes on the ground,” AccuWeather Chief On-Air Meteorologist Bernie Rayno said. “People should take this threat seriously.”
The National Weather Service blamed a strong cold front tracking across the Intermountain West on Monday with high winds, heavy snow and even elevated fire weather conditions for parts of the western High Plains. The storm was forecast to intensify on Tuesday as moisture quickly moves across the middle and lower Mississippi Valley. Tornadoes and damaging winds were expected.
“Conditions should allow for storms to easily begin rotating, leading to an increased tornado threat,” AccuWeather meteorologist Andrew Johnson-Levine said. “A couple of strong, long-track tornadoes cannot be ruled out either.”
BE BE:Severe weather ‘outbreak’ affecting South threatens 25M from Texas to Illinois
New Orleans, Atlanta, Nashville, Birmingham may be affected
Major metro areas that could experience thunderstorms capable of producing flooding and damaging wind gusts on Wednesday include New Orleans, Atlanta, Nashville and Birmingham, Alabama, AccuWeather said.
Air travelers should expect additional delays north of the thunderstorm zone in the Midwest and Northeast from Tuesday into Wednesday, AccuWeather said.
Elsewhere, snow can be a problem. Snow will develop over parts of the Northern and Central Plains overnight into Monday, the National Weather Service said. On Tuesday, snow will develop across the Middle Missouri Valley and into the Upper Mississippi Valley. Heavy snow will develop over parts of the Upper Great Lakes, prompting Winter Storm Watches over the region.