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Storms Threaten Holiday Travel Across US

The holidays are undoubtedly the most difficult time of the year to travel in the United States, as roughly 55 million Americans take to airports and highways to visit their families before the end of the year. This year, however, may pose even more of a travel headache than usual, as multiple storms are forecasted to hit various parts of the US this Thanksgiving. According to U.S. News, a snowstorm is expected in Colorado, Kansas, and northern New Mexico on Friday and Saturday, potentially wreaking havoc on these states’ roads. Additionally, a mixture of rain and snow is forcasted for Missouri and Maine, among other states. Much of the southeastern U.S., alongside the East Coast, is expected to be impacted by thunderstorms as well. 

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Over the weekend, the disruptive weather system is predicted to continue moving east, causing freezing rain in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, West Virginia, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and Massachusetts. Next week, rain will turn into snow in Chicago on Tuesday, and Wisconsin and Michigan will receive heavy snow on Tuesday and Wednesday. In the Northeast, temperatures will not reach freezing, but a storm system will cause rain on Tuesday and Wednesday, thankfully clearing up in time of New York’s Thanksgiving Day parade on Thursday.

Already, a winter storm in Denver has caused a 50 car pile-up, and this storm is moving from the Rockies toward the Northeast, according to ABC 7 NY. The central U.S. is predicted to be the area of the country most affected during the peak of Thanksgiving travel, but travel is sure to be disrupted throughout the country due to weather over the coming days and weeks. According to the AAA, travel during the holidays already takes four times longer than usual due to the increase in traffic, and weather will likely make this travel time even longer to the point of being nearly impossible in some areas. Even more people are predicted to travel this year than last year, as the AAA predicts an additional 1.6 million more people will travel in 2019 than in 2018, as a result of a strong economy.

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If you’re one of the millions of Americans planning on traveling this year, it would be wise to take some precautions to ensure you arrive at your destination safely and on time. According to a AAA report, the absolute worst day to travel is Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, though roads are likely to see very heavy congestion all week. AAA predicts that it will receive more than 368,000 calls from motorists in need of help this holiday season, with dead batteries, lockouts, and flat tires being the most common issues. While gas prices are predicted to stay at a relatively low $2.57 per gallon this holiday, this means that more people will be motivated to drive, making congestion worse.

Many people travel to warm-weather areas during the holiday season, and this year will be no different. According to the AAA, the top three travel destinations for Thanksgiving will be Orlando, Florida; Anaheim, California; and New York, New York, with theme parks being a major attraction during the holidays. In addition to car and plane travel, travel by train, bus, and cruise ship is also expected to peak during the holiday season, though not to the same degree as the other, more popular forms of travel. Air travel in particular will be more difficult this year than last year, as the AAA predicts that air travel will grow by 4.6% this year, a substantially higher margin than any other form of travel. The most important thing to consider when traveling during the holidays, especially when weather conditions are projected to cause difficulties, is the personal safety of yourself and your passengers. As such, you should take steps to prepare for the event of an emergency if you plan to travel.

Snowstorm

Record Low Temperatures And Snowstorms Reported Across The U.S.

This Tuesday, November 12th, America is falling victim to one of the biggest nation-wide Arctic blasts we’ve seen in years. According to USA Today over 200 million Americans all across the country are struggling to face the freezing forecast and endure the giant mass of Arctic air moving across the states. It’s been reported that thousands of flights were canceled leaving many stranded, and other areas have seen more than a foot of snow in their neighborhoods already! It’s surely looking like it’s going to be a white Christmas if winter continues at this intense rate.

The Arctic Air mass began in the West and freezing cold temperatures have been reported from the Canadian border all the way down to the Southernmost tip of Texas, as the mass continues to move and hit the East Coast later Tuesday evening. Chicago saw the beginning of the blast when they woke up this morning to temperatures in the single digits and half a foot of snow. The National Weather Service first reported in Chicago and warned citizens that the combination of the freezing temperature and intense wind patterns will be causing wind chills to hit below zero, and to stay indoors as much as they can. 

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Detroit also made headlines in the morning with their record breaking cold temperatures for this time of year, and for a record 10 inches of snow blanketing the city. These extreme conditions have caused a massive spike in highway accidents to occur, and is delaying all flights a minimum of three hours, (USA Today). Other parts of the country that have seen record breaking winter conditions with this blast include Michigan, which some parts of reported over thirty inches of snow! Parts of Maine saw over two feet and Wisconsin has been cruising at a steady nine degrees for the past 12 days, and has beat its own record for amount of snow during this time of year three consecutive days in a row (USA). Overall, it’s looking like one of the coldest harshest winters the country has seen in awhile, is just beginning. 

These parts of America, however, are used to seeing pretty harsh winter conditions early in the season every year. What’s surprising is the areas of the South that are seeing the same type of conditions occurring. Areas of Texas just 60 miles from the Mexican border saw freezing temperatures and a few inches of snow this morning. 

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“Wednesday will be colder for many from the Great Lakes to the Northeast and down all the way into Florida. You are talking single digits in Chicago, Indianapolis, Detroit. Atlanta will see the mid-20s. Low 20s in Birmingham, some other parts of Alabama. We will be challenging records everywhere. More snow and cold are on the way. More than 200 million people will be freezing between Tuesday through Thursday. The snow isn’t done yet, either. The cold will continue to shift south and east into Wednesday, finally encompassing more than half of the country,”  AccuWeather meteorologist Tyler Roys said to USA Today.

Accuweather predicts more than 300 daily temperature records can be broken by this Thursday, meaning for this time of the year, it will be the coldest it’s ever been in recorded history for parts of the country. The extreme weather is related to the polar vortex, that many are affected by every winter. The polar vortex is a large mass of freezing cold air that sits high in our atmosphere and typically spins over the northernmost part of the planet (The North Pole). However, in some specific cases the vortex drifts south and when it makes that journey it lowers in the atmosphere, distributing cold air and thus harsh winter conditions across the country.