NEW YORK – With travelers trying to get an early jump on the long Thanksgiving weekend, New Yorkers face the threat of a nor’easter which could dump up to eight inches of snow and snarl transportation.
New York City and regions including northern Nassau County, southern Westchester County, Western Connecticut and parts of northeast New Jersey are expected to get 4 to 8 inches of heavy snow beginning the morning of Nov. 26, a day before the holiday, the National Weather Service.
The precipitation is expected to start as a mix of rain and snow and transition to all snow by the afternoon of Nov. 26, the service said.
The storm watch, which will be in effect through the morning of Thanksgiving Day is anticipated to “significantly impact holiday travel…making driving dangerous at times,” according to the service.
As of the afternoon of Nov. 25, the New York state Thruway Authority hadn’t planned any road closures, according to a spokesman for the agency. Besides the usual heavy traffic for the period, drivers may have to face sleet or ice, making travel treacherous and more arduous.
“A lot of things are very dependent on the track and intensity of the low pressure system,” Brian Ciemnecki, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service told The Wall Street Journal.
If the system is stronger and further to the east, more snow could fall on Long Island, he said, while if it is weaker and further to the west, “it could mean less snow for the city, and more rain.”
While forecasters expect the storm to hit many of the most common Thanksgiving Day travel routes, drivers may be able to avoid the worst of the weather by waiting until the day of the holiday to make their journey.
Some Thanksgiving travelers along the East Coast headed out early because of the forecast.
“I was really getting nervous about getting stuck and not making it home for the holidays,” said Jenna Bouffard, a Manhattan public relations executive who said she switched her bus ticket from Nov. 26 to Nov. 25 to avoid potential weather delays.
“I don’t want to risk it,” she said. “I’d rather be safe than sorry and if it doesn’t snow then I just have an extra day at home with my family” in Uxbridge, Massachusetts.
The National Weather Service’s lead forecaster said major Northeast cities will likely see moderate to heavy rain most of Nov. 26. Meteorologist Andrew Orrison says higher elevation areas west of the Interstate 95 corridor could see as much as 6 to 12 inches of snow.
Although the coast would see mostly rain, the Weather Service says the storm could leave a few inches of snow before exiting the region early Nov. 27.
“We’re not looking at major cities seeing significant snowfall,” Orrison said. “It will mostly be rain for big cities and then maybe a couple of slushy inches of accumulation in cities like Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and New York City.”
Although the storm will be a nor’easter, Orrison said heavy winds were not in the forecast. Conditions were expected to improve by the morning of Nov. 27.
All the major U.S. airlines were closely monitoring the situation but have not yet canceled flights. American Airlines was allowing passengers flying to some Northeast cities on Nov. 26 to move their flight, for free, to Nov. 25 or Nov. 27.
In Vermont, public safety officials warned the public that travel could be treacherous. Up to 16 inches of snow was forecast in some areas of the state.
(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report)